The Dunn laboratory (The Organelle Biogenesis, Dysfunction, and Evolution Laboratory) is focused upon three major topics:
First, the lab examines how proteins encoded by the nucleus and synthesized on cytosolic ribosomes make their way to their proper subcellular destinations. Most prominently, it studies how tail-anchored proteins target to mitochondrial and peroxisomes.
Second, the Dunn lab considers the question of how and why eukaryotic cells first generated organelles. It considers these questions by experimentation and by theoretical reasoning.
And third, the lab studies the consequences of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage at the cellular level. Nearly one in 5000 people inherit mtDNA mutations that can cause disease. Others are afflicted with mtDNA-associated disease after long-term treatment with anti-viral or anti-cancer agents. Throughout our lifespan, we accumulate damage to our mtDNA, raising the possibility that mtDNA damage promotes aging. One long term aim of the laboratory is to find genetic and pharmacological methods by which the fitness of human cells with impaired mitochondria can be increased.
The laboratory is currently funded by an ERC Starting Grant.