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

Research

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.

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

Graduate Students

PhD students

Yilin Kang

Honours Students

David Gillett

Lara Freeman

Laura Fielden

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.

Diana embraces a large range of technologies from protein chemistry to molecular cell biology. She is passionate about teaching these methods and the knowledge of her discipline to younger scientists.