Department of Biochemistry
Department website: http://biochem.iisc.ernet.in/
Research in the Biochemistry department straddles both basic and applied research. Basic research helps in understanding the complex intricacies of biomolecules and their interactions in living organisms. Applied research makes use of this knowledge to come up with solutions for abnormal conditions such as infection and diseases.
Within each cell, DNA is found as tightly coiled, thread like chromosomes. Shika Laloraya utilises molecular, genetic, and biochemical tools to understand the structural organisation and function of chromosomes. When cells divide, the chromosomes unravel, the double stranded DNA unwinds, and each strand is copied faithfully to produce two sets of “daughter” DNA. K Muniyappa’s lab investigates chromosome behaviour during cell division, using the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the bacteriaEscherichia coli as model systems.
Sathees Raghavan’s research focuses on genomic instability and genomic abnormalities such as chromosomal translocation which are found in cancers such as leukaemia. The group also screens natural and synthetic compounds for anti-cancer effects.
Since cells are continuously dividing in our bodies, there can sometimes be copying errors - the DNA structure can be compromised. To reduce error, our body has DNA repair proteins that act as copy editors, and scour the daughter DNA to correct for errors. D. Narsimha Rao’s goal is to understand how these proteins interact with DNA, specifically during repair of damaged DNA or erroneous DNA replication. Ganesh Nagaraju works on the molecular mechanism of how cells respond to DNA damage, genetic instability and the genes that regulate these processes.
Purusharth Rajyaguru has been working on the different fates that can befall an mRNA molecule once it emerges from the nucleus. Using the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and cell cultures, the aim is to figure out how a cell decides to store, degrade or make protein from a particular mRNA molecule.
Using the multi-disciplinary tools of Genetics, Biochemistry, cell-biology and Bio-informatics, Patrick D’Silva studies how proteins transform from long chains of amino acids to intricate three dimensional structures that can perform myriad biological functions.
Ram Ramrajsekharan studies the regulation and metabolism of lipids - a group of molecules including fats, triglycerides and fat-soluble vitamins - in plants. His group also studies the mechanisms by which extracellular signals induce intracellular responses.
Anjali A Karande studies specific proteins involved in cellular mechanisms. Glycodelin-A regulates maternal immune response to molecules in the fetus during pregnancy; Abrin inactivates ribosomes, which are involved in protein synthesis.
One aspect of Dipankar Nandi’s research looks at immune responses, specifically the role of T-cells, a type of White blood cells, and signalling molecules involved in regulating the immune response. Another aspect is to study degradation of protein generated inside bacteria during stress or infection, which is important in regulating the internal environment of the bacteria.
R Manjunath uses mouse models to study immune response against infectious viruses which affect the nervous system, like the Japanese encephalitis virus. The body fights viruses by flagging infected cells with marker molecules. But, cells in the nervous system cannot express as many markers as other cells, and the body finds it difficult to get rid of these viruses.
P N Rangarajan’s lab studies the biology of the yeast Pichia pastoris, a popular model organism to understand gene expression in multicellular organisms. They are also working with infectious diseases. They have characterised biochemical pathways in the malarial parasite, and found curcumin from turmeric to be a potent antimalarial, in combination with the usual artemisinin drug. The group is also developing vaccines against Hepatitis B and rabies.