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Shoolini University Center of Research on Himalayan Sustainability and Development

Shoolini University’s Center of Research on Himalayan Sustainability and Development director Prof. Adesh K Saini recently submitted his paper “Translational initiation factor eIF5 replaces eIF1 on the 40S ribosomal subunit to promote start-codon recognition”, which was selected in eLife journal. He talks to us about the relevance of the paper and what makes his research unique.

What is the aim of your research?

The paper focusses on understanding the mechanism for the role of eukaryotic initiation factor 5 in promoting stringent start codon selection using state-of-the-art Structure Biology, Genetics, and Biophysics.

What is unique about the paper? 

In this paper, we have been able to determine the cryo-EM structure of a megacomplex containing 40S ribosome, eukaryotic initiation factor along with mRNA and initiator tRNA at near-atomic resolutions (3.0 Å to 3.5 Å maps). The interaction between eIF5 and the complex were determined by making precise mutations in the factor. For the first time, we have been able to show that eIF5 stabilizes codon-anticodon interaction for the final step in start codon interaction. This study is carried out in collaboration with Prof. Venki Ramakrishnan's Group at MRC-Cambridge, Dr. Tanweer Hussain at IISc, Bangalore and Prof Alan. Hinnebusch, and Prof. Jon Lorsch group at NIH-USA. 

What are the big issues in the research area?

The big issue in this research area is to pinpoint the role of initiation factors at various steps of start codon selection as a malfunction at various steps of protein synthesis cause various ailments like cancer, aging and diabetes­. In the area of gene regulation, understanding the depths of protein translation is must to prepare models for future research and for novel drug discoveries. 

How has the University assisted you in your research? 

Research is all about making genuine failures towards a theme and then finally a day comes when you are there. The platform at Shoolini University has always boosted all the researchers to pursue their research dreams. Most important is the vision of Prof PK Khosla that we shall be in the top 200 Universities and to achieve this we all are working very hard.  

Shoolini University gives us the freedom to work in the desired area and this is a unique model where the free mind can work. Our Ph.D. students are very hardworking and university support great research students. 

Can you brief us about Shoolini’s research capabilities? What makes it an ideal place for students?

Shoolini is a research-driven university with a clear goal to excel in research for the sustainable development of the Himalayas. Shoolini has state-of-the-art facilities for carrying out basic and applied research. The free flow of ideas between various schools is boon for us. Researchers are not only equipped with great instrumentation but also with best of the best students who passionately opt research as a career.  

It is one of the ideal places for students because they work in a multidisciplinary atmosphere where they not only learn from their own field but also in collaboration with other departments, which brings out a holistic outlook in them.