Reema Kola

Mentor: Dr. Bryan Kolaczkowski
College of Agricultural and Life Science
 
"I got involved in research for many reasons. Research is a platform that allows me to discover something that no one else knows. In addition, I think it is fascinating that through research some fatal diseases have become chronic illnesses and now have the potential to be cured. And last but not least, research allows me to hone my problem-solving and critical thinking skills. "

Major

Microbiology and Nutrition

Minor

Communication Studies

Research Interests

  • Autoimmunity
  • Immunology
  • Host-Microbe Interactions

Academic Awards

  • HHMI Undergrad Research Award (March 2014)
  • Earl Wilmott Hartt Scholarship (April 2015)
  • Price Scholarship (August 2014)
  • University Scholars Program 2015-2016

Organizations

  • UF Premed AMSA
  • Ambassador Leadership Program, Center for Written and Oral Communication

Volunteer

  • Al'z Place, ElderCare of Alachua County
  • Conversation Partner, English Language Institute
  • Habitat for Humanity Women Build

Hobbies and Interests

  • Tennis
  • Spending time with my nieces and nephew

Research Description

Ubiquitin Modulates the Molecular Function of Antiviral Immune Receptors
The innate immune response is a cell’s first line of defense against pathogen infection. The RIG-like receptors (RLRs) are a group of cytoplasmic proteins that recognize alien RNA and initiate innate immune cascades (Ireton and Gale Jr. 2011). RLRs play critical roles in antiviral and antibacterial responses, and RLR mutations have been associated with type-1 diabetes and other autoimmune disorders (Imaizumi et al. 2006; Aida et al. 2011). Investigating the molecular interaction between RLR's can improve our understanding of the structural mechanisms driving innate immune activation while identifying new specific targets for molecular medicine. Recent cell-culture and structural studies have suggested that K63-linked polyubiquitin chains may be involved in RLR-based immune signaling (Gack, et al. 2007; Jiang, et al. 2012). We hypothesize that ubiquitin may facilitate binding between RLRs and the IPS1 signaling protein. We will test our hypothesis by covalently and noncovalently binding K63-polyubiquitin to RLRs. By performing these experiments, we expect to be able to determine how ubiquitin may affect the initial steps of RLR signaling.