Sabina Musial

Assembly principles of the CO2 -fixing liquid-liquid phase separated organelle, the Pyrenoid

About me

I graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2021 with an integrated masters degree. Since my first year I was very interested in pursuing an academic career, so I was looking out for opportunities to gain research experience. As a result I have had the chance to pursue different research areas during two summer internships. During the first one I studied the epigenetic regulation of enhancers at Bose lab in Sheffield and later I briefly joined Sallberg lab at Karolinska Institutet Stockholm where I performed immunoassays to test a potential therapeutical vaccine against HBV.

However it was my third year that had the formative impact on my research interests. I have undertaken a bioinformatic research project into transcripts with introns in their 3’ untranslated regions. This has sparked my love for coding, whereas a series of lectures on photosynthesis made me excited about this topic. During my masters I studied the structure of cytochrome bc1 from the purple bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides using cryoEM. These experiences led me to apply for the project in the Mackinder and Blaza labs.

My research

My project focuses on investigating proteins involved in the creation of a phase-separated carbon concentrating organelle – the pyrenoid. The pyrenoid is composed largely of closely packed Rubisco – the enzyme responsible for the entry of inorganic carbon into the Calvin cycle. Due to this packing algae are able to   increase the concentration of CO2 around Rubisco and prevent the wasteful reaction of photorespiration.

In my research I am going to use cryo electron microscopy to understand the structure of other pyrenoid proteins and how they interact with Rubisco in two algal species – Thalassiossira pseudonana and Porphyridium purpureum. I hope this knowledge will enable us to understand better the underlying principles of carbon concentrating mechanisms in diverse algae and allow to apply them to plants in the future.