Stojanovski Group

“It is fascinating how nature has answered the difficult question of protein sorting within mitochondria, by providing elaborate transport systems. Our lab's mission is to expand our current knowledge of these processes in mammalian cells and contribute to understanding the molecular basis of mitochondrial dysfunction in disease.” – Dr Diana Stojanovski

Biography

Diana Stojanovski obtained her BSc (Hons) and PhD in the Department of Biochemistry at La Trobe University. In 2006 she commenced post-doctoral work in the lab of Professor Nikolaus Pfanner, a world-leader in mitochondrial protein import at the University of Freiburg in Germany. Her time in Germany was supported by a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship. In 2009 Diana returned to the Department of Biochemistry at La Trobe University and as an Australian post-doctoral fellow (funded through the ARC) set up her independent research group dealing with mitochondrial protein trafficking. She was recruited to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne in 2013 as the Biochemistry Fund Fellow and runs the Mitochondrial Biogenesis and Disease lab. 

Research

The mitochondrion is the cell’s power plant, where sugars from the food we eat are converted into energy that our bodies need to survive. Inside this power plant is a workforce of 'proteins’ that perform that many critical functions of mitochondria. In healthy human cells about 1500 proteins must be moved to their correct location within mitochondria. This process is known as ‘protein import’, and if it fails to occur correctly energy production and general mitochondrial health and function is affected.
Import of mitochondrial proteins is carried out by tiny molecular machines called translocases. My labs research looks into how these tiny molecular machines function in human c

The Stojanovski team is interested in mitochondrial biogenesis and function in healthy cells and disease. Mitochondrial function extends far beyond that of energy generation, because mitochondria serve as hubs for numerous cellular activities, including: apoptosis, calcium signalling, the metabolism of amino acids and lipids and the biosynthesis of iron-sulfur clusters and heme. These functions are reliant on the workhorse of proteins within the mitochondria to carry out these essential roles. Mitochondria cannot be created de novo and therefore require the constant synthesis of mitochondrial- and nuclear-encoded proteins for their biogenesis. Disturbances in mitochondrial protein homeostasis compromise organelle function and mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with numerous disease states, including, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.ells.

Their research encompasses two areas:

  • understanding the machineries and mechanism that drive protein import and assembly in mitochondria
  • unraveling the link between defects in mitochondrial protein import and assembly and human disease

Techniques

Molecular and cellular biology methods including: mammalian tissue culture; bacterial expression systems; recombinant protein technologies; immunochemistry; microscopic techniques; blue-native PAGE; mass spectrometry; cross-linking and affinity techniques; yeast culturing and genetics.

Group Members

Group Head

Diana Stojanovski

Postdoctoral Scientist

Catherine Palmer

Graduate Students

PhD students

Yilin Kang
Laura Fielden
Thomas Jackson

Honours Students

Alexander Anderson