Louise Butt was awarded the best Final Year Project in Molecular Aspects of Biology by SCI’s BioResources Technical Interest Group. A top student in her year, Louise graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Genome Science. She was awarded two prizes, the Deanne Searle Memorial Prize for the best overall achievement by a mature student in the Final Year, and the SCI Prize for the best Final Year Project in Molecular Aspects of Biology.
Louise’s project (supervised by Dr Andrew Pickford) on ‘Site-directed mutagenesis of the hemopexin domain of matrix metalloproteinase 1 (MMP-1)’ involved an investigation of an important zinc-dependent enzyme that is involved in the regulation of extracellular matrix composition through hydrolysis of type I collagen. This work involved the use of a series of molecular biological methods including site-directed mutagenesis of the MMP-1 enzyme, sequencing of mutant constructs, production and purification of heterologous mutant proteins, and surface plasmon binding assays to detect functional binding between immobilised collagen and the purified mutants. The work lays the foundations for future studies of the range of interactions of MMPs with substrate and regulatory inhibitors. Understanding of this system may help in the development of therapies that can reduce the impact of the aberrant MMP activity that is associated with pathological states such as arthritis, fibrosis and atherosclerosis.
Louise is going to undertake postgraduate research training under the supervision of Dr Andrew Pickford in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Portsmouth. Her PhD project entitled ‘The role of interdomain interactions in matrix metalloproteinase latency’ will build on the experienced gained from her final year undergraduate project, and will introduce her to numerous other disciplines including recombinant expression in yeast, enzyme kinetics, differential scanning calorimetry, isothermal titration calorimetry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
The prize was presented by Professor Matthew Guille, Head of the School of Biological Sciences, at a ceremony held on the day of the Degree Congregation during which the award was announced.