Ana Casañal, a postdoctoral researcher in Lori Passmore’s group in the LMB’s Structural Studies Division, is one of two recipients of the FEBS Anniversary Prizes 2019.
The FEBS (Federation of European Biochemical Societies) Anniversary Prizes of the Gesellschaft für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie (GBM; German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) are awarded annually to up to two researchers under 40 years of age for outstanding achievements in the field of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology or related sciences.
Ana is using electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) to gain mechanistic insights into regulation of gene expression. Genes encoded within DNA are first transcribed into an intermediate messenger RNA (mRNA) molecule before information can be translated into production of proteins. mRNA processing is a key step involving cleavage and addition of a repetitive poly(A) tail, which enhances translation of mRNA into proteins in all eukaryotic organisms. Although this prize is not awarded for a particular piece of work, one important project that Ana worked on resulted in the first cryo-EM structure of the cleavage and polyadenylation factor (CPF), the central complex of the mRNA processing machinery, providing insight into how its nuclease and polymerase activities are organised and how it performs its functions. Importantly, understanding CPF also has human health implications as it is hijacked by certain viruses, including influenza, and is deregulated in diseases such as cancer and beta-thalessemia.
Ana was previously awarded the LMB’s Brenner Postdoc Prize in 2018 and the 2019 Biochemical Society Early Career Research Award.
Ana will receive her award before presenting a lecture about her research at the 44th FEBS Congress in Krakow in July. The award consists of €2000 and a certificate.