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Grantees Profile

Adrienne Lesley Edkins

Country (Nationality)

South Africa

Grantee Title

Project - The DnaJ-DnaK-GrpE complex as a selective drug target in Mycobacterium tuberculosis 

Grantee Description

Adrienne is Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Rhodes University in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, NRF/DST SARChI Chair in Molecular and Cellular Biology of the Eukaryotic Stress Response (since Dec 2015) and recipient of a Newton Advanced Fellowship from the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK) (2018-2021). She serves as the Director of the Rhodes University Biomedical Biotechnology Research Unit (BioBRU). Adrienne completed her PhD degree in cellular biochemistry from Glasgow University under the supervision of Bill Cushley on the Wellcome Trust Four Year PhD fellowship in Molecular Basis of Disease. Adrienne’s research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms that control protein homeostasis in health and disease, and consequently allow cells to survive transient or sustained environmental stress. An NRF Y1 rated researcher, her research track record in this area includes 49 peer-reviewed publications, 8 book chapters and 3 edited books and training of 48 postgraduate students (14 PhD and 28 MSc). She has been the recipient of the Rhodes University VC Distinguished Research Medal (2015) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) South African Women in Science (SAWiSA) Award for Distinguished Young Scientist in the Natural/Engineering Sciences (2018). She is an elected Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) since 2018 and a member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf) since 2017. 

Project - The DnaJ-DnaK-GrpE complex as a selective drug target in Mycobacterium tuberculosis 

The ability to detect, respond and cope with stress is essential for the survival of all organisms. Central to this, is the ability to maintain the structure and function of the cellular proteome. This protein homeostasis requires a group of highly conserved proteins, known as molecular chaperones to catalyse protein folding on a biological timescale and to counteract stress-related denaturation. Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) experiences numerous stresses in the host cell, including reactive oxygen species and chemotherapy, which challenge protein homeostasis and lead to a heightened requirement for chaperones. Mtb DnaK-DnaJ chaperones are essential proteins and are also required for drug resistance and control cell permeability which are important factors for effective TB treatment. The project will evaluate the role of the DnaK-DnaJ chaperone complex from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) as a drug target by a combination of target-based and phenotypic screening against the Mtb chaperones and human equivalents. The aim is to identify selective modulators of the Mtb chaperone complexes to support development of newer, more effective therapies.