Former MBIDP students part of a team that found a new function of histones

MBIDP alumni, Oscar Campos, Ph.D. and Narsis Attar, M.D, Ph.D., are co-first authors of “The histone H3-H4 tetramer is a copper reductase enzyme” which was published in Science. Researchers found that histones also function as enzymes that convert copper into a form that can be used by the body’s cells. Lead author, Dr. Siavash Kurdistani, says “Narsis and Oscar (together with a Dr. Maria Vogelauer, a project scientist) conducted an incredibly challenging but a remarkable six-year investigative effort involving biochemistry, genetics, molecular and cellular biology that led to this stunning discovery.”

Undoubtedly, teamwork was an important element to the project’s success. When asked about it, Attar told us “The success of this project is really a testament to the power of perseverance and teamwork among incredibly dedicated individuals, and to the value of creating an intellectually engaging lab environment. I’m grateful to everyone who contributed to this project and excited to finally share our discovery with the scientific community.”

Similarly, Campos shares that “The part of this project that I will cherish the most is the collaboration I had with my fellow co-first authors, Narsis Attar and Maria Vogelauer. This work presented many obstacles and I’m very grateful that we worked so well as a team to overcome them. Together with our advisor and director, Siavash Kurdistani, and another critical team member, Chen Cheng, I think we made an important breakthrough that we can all be proud of.

The title of our paper reflects our unexpected discovery of a function of the histone proteins. However, this finding represents something even deeper. It is emblematic of the functional connection between the two underpinning features of Eukaryotic cells: the nucleus and the mitochondria. I find it satisfying that we, the scientists, had to collaborate in order to discover a fundamental collaboration occurring in our cells, a collaboration spanning back billions of years and that is as important today as it was then.”

The findings of this collaborative project could give insights into how disease develops in cancer, mitochondrial diseases, neurodegenerative disorders and a variety of other conditions.

Click here to read the paper.