CURF Blog 1 – Introduction

Introduction to my research

Hello, my name is Ruiqi He, and I am excited to share my research experience with you this fall. My current project focuses on the interactions between alpha-arrestins and their membrane cargo for regulating the internalization of membrane proteins. This is an important biological process required for cells to respond to extracellular stress or starvation. alpha-arrestins play an important role as protein trafficking adaptors and govern the endocytosis of various membrane proteins in yeast. They are also conserved through eukaryotes, but their function in mammalian cells remains elusive.

My project currently focuses on the alpha-arrestin paralogs Aly1 and Aly2, along with their membrane cargo Fat3. I have been immersed in this project since spring 2023, under the guidance of my research mentor, Dr. Allyson F. O’Donnell. My primary focus is to scrutinize the specific amino acid motifs responsible for this interaction. By expressing Fat3 with various point mutations introduced to its C terminal tail, we have identified several amino acid motifs that may serve as potential binding sites for Aly1 and Aly2, and a lysine residue that we suspect is responsible for Aly1/Aly2-mediated ubiquitination of Fat3 for inducing its internalization. I will use techniques such as bimolecular fluorescence and coimmunoprecipitation to further confirm this interaction. By analyzing the potential binding sites responsible for recognition by Aly1 and Aly2, we can gain a better understanding of the function of the alpha-arrestins and how they recognize specific membrane proteins for regulation.

My current professional goals

My professional ambitions revolve around continuing my path in biological research. Following the completing my undergraduate studies at Pitt, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. degree in a related field. Currently, I am also enrolled in the departmental honors program in the Biological Sciences department for the research I am currently conducting. I have enjoyed my research topic and contributing to the advancement of biological sciences. I also enjoyed conducting research in a lab and learning new knowledge and skills, which have helped me better prepare for my future studies. In this pursuit, The CURF is a valuable asset. It provides me with valuable resources and will help me prepare for my future career and achieve my academic and professional goals.

My background

I am a molecular biology major and chemistry minor, and I am recently accepted into the honors degree program. I am an international student from Shanghai, China. I came to the US two years ago to complete my undergraduate studies, and I also plan to pursue a Ph.D. degree in the US as well. I am excited to being part of the CURF community, as it offers me the opportunity to not only share my research progress, but also to engage in discussions about research with fellow CURF members, which will deepen my understanding of research across diverse fields.  

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