10. Kah Yen Yeak

10. Kah Yen Yeak2018-12-04T12:01:24+00:00

Project Description

Kah Yen Yeak

Kah Yen Yeak


Early Stage Researcher 10,

Project Title and Work Package(s): Comparative and Functional Genomics of the General Stress Response in genus Bacillus. (WP2, WP4)


(1) To perform an extensive comparative genomics study of the SigB operon and regulon in the genus Bacillus using newly available genomes sequences from wild isolates;

(2) To correlate genotypic differences with altered SigB activity and stress tolerance phenotypes via Reverse-Transcription Quantitative Real Time PCR (RT-qPCR) or SigB reporters;

(3) To perform proteomic comparisons on wild isolates with altered stress responses (selected based on the outcome of 1 &2);

(4) To evaluate a potential relationship between toxin synthesis in response to SigB activation

Expected Results: 

(1) A model describing the evolution of the general stress response within the Bacillus genus and definition of the Bacillus core SigB regulon members;

(2) An understanding of how genetic changes in the SigB regulon influence the sensory properties and ultimately phenotype of the organism;

(3) Identification of potential novel SigB positive and negative regulator(s) and other novel protein(s) that is/are involved in the general stress sensing pathway(s);

(4) An understanding of the direct or indirect influence of SigB activation to toxins synthesis in B. subtilis, B. cereus and B. licheniformis.

Personal Statement

I come from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. It is a multi-ethnic and multilingual country, it has all year long summer, a lot of foods and public holidays (All kind of holiday you could think of :P)

For the sake of new challenges and some exciting adventures, I moved to Europe in September 2011 and was residing in Bonn, Germany. There, I completed my BSc. in Applied Biology, and have gained working experience at the University Hospital Bonn on human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) research. In this project, I characterized the osteogenic potential of human MSCs isolated from 1) human femur head, 2) adipose tissue, and 3) bone marrow into osteoblasts (cells that synthesize bone). I also determined and compared their morphologies, cell proliferation capabilities and alkaline phosphatase activities. To my surprise, I found that the bone marrow MSCs of osteoporotic patients have no decreased tendency in lineage differentiation into osteoblasts.

In 2015, I continued my master study at Georg- August- University Göttingen and majored in General Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. I worked at the general microbiology department for my internship and also for my master thesis. My research topic was the Genetic Adaptation of Bacillus subtillis to a Partial Heterologous Vitamin B6 Production Pathway. The goal was to investigate new vitamin B6 related genes and protein functions, so that we can get a deeper insight into the vitamin B6 metabolism. The ultimate target was and still is to use genetic modify bacteria strain(s) as the model organism in the industry to produce large amount of vitamin B6 (Currently, B6 production is solely dependent on expensive and toxic chemicals). I have published this research work as a co-author in the Environmental Microbiology journal under the title “A two‐step evolutionary process establishes a non‐native vitamin B6 pathway in Bacillus subtilis”.

Besides, I also performed quite some RNA works in my master. This included studies on the physical interaction of the TLC1 (the telomerase enzyme) RNA with some transport proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast) mutants. The purpose of the study was to check if the telomerase enzyme (responsible for the telomere extension in yeast) is also quality controlled just like the mRNA. I investigated 1) the interactions between TLC1 and the known transport proteins called Mtr10, Mex67 and Xpo1 2) the interaction of Mtr4 (a RNA helicase that is involved in RNA surveillance) with different types of RNAs and 3) reviewed the role of Mtr4 in rRNA processing.

Now I hold an MSc. in Molecular Life Sciences: Microbiology, Biotechnology and Biochemistry. I am glad to have been selected for the ESR 10 position and I am thrilled to start a new journey with NIZO Food Research and the PATHSENSE Consortium to exploit the mechanism of sensory perception in bacteria. For my Ph.D, I am based in Ede, The Netherlands. Nevertheless, I will work together also with the laboratory of food microbiology at the University of Wageningen. The Netherlands. During the secondment period, I will work at University of Greifswald, Germany and at the spin-out company Aquilla Biosciences in Galway, Ireland. For more updates of my Ph.D projects and secondment information, please visit my personal blog and follow my blog updates.

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