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Dr. U. Bond - Research Page

Research Activities – Associate Professor U. Bond

Eukaryotic Gene Regulation

Ursula Bond, B.A., Ph.D.[WASH. (ST. LOUIS)] – Senior Lecturer and Head of Discipline in Microbiology.


Research Interests

1. Responses of Cells to Environmental Stress
Since joining the Microbiology Department at Trinity College, my research has focussed on the effects of environmental stress on cellular physiology and metabolism in eukaryotic cells. We use the single celled microorganism Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system. We have shown that one of the most stress-sensitive components in the cell is the large macromolecular complex, the spliceosome, which carries out mRNA splicing,. Using a genetic approach, we discovered that a set of proteins, referred to as Heat Shock Proteins, are actively involved in repairing the damage to the spliceosome upon recovery from heat stress (Bracken and Bond, 1999; Bond and James, 2000). Our studies also showed that Hsps physically interact with snRNPs following exposure of cells to heat stress.

We are also examining other environmental conditions experienced by yeasts that might induce a stress response. We turned our attention to brewery yeasts which encounter stress during the brewing process. To our surprise we discovered that the genes encoding Heat Shock Proteins are actively repressed under brewing conditions (Brosnan and Bond, 2000). This may be due to the fact that brewery yeasts are naturally tolerant to stress. With the development of techniques to examine the activation of all genes in an organism in a single experiment (Microarray Technology), we have been generating global views of gene activity in brewery strains of yeast. Using this approach we have produced a database of all gene activity during the process of alcohol fermentation (Bond and James, 2001; James et al , 2002; James et al 2003. Using microarray technology, we are also examining the genetic make-up of brewery strains of yeast. The lager yeast genomes arose from a fusion of two yeast species, one being S. cerevisiae and the other appears similar to S. bayanus . To our surprise, we discovered that the genomes of these strains are highly mosaic in nature with individual gene copy numbers ranging from one to six. Furthermore, major rearrangements in the structures of the chromosomes have occurred in these strains, resulting from recombination events between the the two different yeast genomes. (Bond et al , 2004; Blomberg and Bond, 2005).

2. Heat Shock Proteins and Cancer.
My interest in heat shock proteins has led my research in another interesting direction. One of the roles of Heat Shock Proteins is to chaperone antigens found in cancer cells to the cell surface. These antigens can then interact with our immune systems to elicit an immune response against the cancer cell. Unfortunately this response is not sufficient to eliminate the tumour cells. We asked a “blue skies” question as to whether a molecular mimic to these antigens might elicit a more robust immune response. Over the past five years in collaboration with Dr. Derek Doherty, NUI Maynooth, we have developed a method to generate mimics of tumour antigens. We have tested the immune stimulatory abilities of these mimics and find that indeed they can stimulate immune responses. This research has recently been submitted to Cancer Research.

3. RNA Production during the Cell Cycle in Yeasts.
We are also interested in understanding the mechanism of regulation of RNA production during the cell cycle in yeasts. Here we focus on the production of histone RNAs which encode histone proteins. Histone mRNAs accumulate during the S-phase of the cell cycle when DNA synthesis is occurring. Immediately following S-phase, as cells enter G-2 phase, there is a rapid turnover of histone mRNAs. A molecular analysis of sequences in the region downstream of the 3' end of histone RNAs revealed a communication between transcription termination and the rapid turnover of these RNAs in the G2 phase of the cell cycle. This discovery has opened up a new field of research and has been published in the Journal Molecular and Cellular Biology (Campbell and Bond, 2002). Funding: My research has been funded by The Health Research Board, The Irish American Partnership, BioResearch Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and by the European Union.

Research Personnel

Research Fellow:
Dr. T. James

Postgraduate Researchers:

Postgraduate Researchers:
Mr. C. Monerawela
Mr. M. Beckett

Last updated 9 February 2018 by Microbiology (Email).