Meet the new faculty: Dr. Emine Koc

Dr. Emine Koc, Associate Professor, Biochemistry and MicrobiologyDr. Emine Koc Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Microbiology

Education B.S. (Chemistry/Biochemistry), Ege University, Turkey M.S. (Biochemistry), Ege University, Turkey Ph.D. (Chemistry/Biochemistry), New Mexico State UniversityResearchDr. Koc’s research examines the role mitochondria play in aging, heart disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, obesity, and cancer. Because of their central role in energy metabolism, it is becoming more apparent that mitochondria are contributing factors in these processes/diseases. In mammals, mitochondria are responsible for providing over 90% of the energy in the form of ATP, which is generated by the process of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). Mitochondria have their own 16.5 kb circular genome and translation machinery/ribosomes essential for the synthesis of 13 essential proteins of the OXPHOS complexes. The mammalian mitochondrial ribosome (55S) is composed of ~80 mitochondrial ribosomal proteins (MRPs), about half of which have homologs in bacterial ribosomes. Although many of the maternally-inherited mitochondrial disorders result from mutations in mitochondrial DNA, alterations in expression levels and mutations of MRPs also affect mitochondrial protein synthesis and cell growth. Indeed, there is growing evidence suggesting the involvement of MRPs in various disease states, apoptosis, and cancer. Clearly, changes in the expression of MRPs influence mitochondrial metabolism and alter the balance between apoptosis and tumor formation due to the changes in energy production.

Dr. Koc’s multidisciplinary research takes advantage of biochemical, molecular and cell biological, and mass spectrometry-based proteomics technologies. Using this “systems biology” approach, her laboratory has paved the way to study mitochondrial translation by identifying all the protein components of the ribosome and translation initiation factor 3 (mtIF3) in mammalian mitochondria. More recently, they have determined the modification of MRPs by phosphorylation and acetylation at steady-state levels using mass spectrometry-based proteomics. Based on these observations, they have postulated that the mitochondrial translation machinery is regulated by post-translational modifications (PTMs) as NAD+ and ATP levels regulate the activities of many other mitochondrial enzymes involved in oxidative phosphorylation.

Dr. Koc’s current research interests are all integrative and are aimed at determining how components of mitochondrial translation/ribosomes affect oxidative phosphorylation and apoptosis in normal and disease conditions. As her research unveils more about the regulatory roles of MRPs and their PTMs, new strategies will be devised to manipulate mitochondrial function/dysfunction in metabolic diseases, cancer, and aging.


In Fall 2012, Dr. Koc will team-teach Molecular Basis of Medicine and Foundations of Biomedical Science.


Dr. Koc serves as an ad hoc grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Army Research Office. She also serves as a manuscript reviewer for several journals, including Biochemistry, the EMBO Journal (European Molecular Biology Organization), EMBO Reports, Experimental Cell Research, Human Molecular Genetics, Mitochondrion, PLoS (Public Library of Science) Biology, Plant Biology, Plant Cell, and Plant Physiology.

Dr. Koc is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, and the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.

Contact Info

Telephone: (304) 696-3680