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Dr Alexander Agrotis
Room G18A
Anatomy Building
Gower Street
Dr Alexander Agrotis profile picture
  • Lecturer (Teaching) in Cell Biology
  • Cell & Developmental Biology
  • Div of Biosciences
  • Faculty of Life Sciences
Research Themes
Research Summary

My research interests centre on understanding the intracellular protein degradation mechanisms used by eukaryotic cells to stay healthy and respond to various stresses. These comprise autophagy and the ubiquitin-proteasome system.

Autophagy is a 'self-eating' process whereby cells digest their own contents through formation of a new double-membraned organelle called an autophagosome. These organelles later fuse with degradative lysosomes. I first became interested in autophagy during my PhD and first postdoc at UCL Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology in Prof Robin Ketteler's lab. During this time, I dissected the role of the ATG4 proteases in human cells. I used CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to disrupt the different human ATG4(A-D) isoforms, and studied the effects on autophagy using biochemical methods as well as confocal and electron microscopy.

My second postdoc exposed me to yeast genetics and state-of-the art molecular techniques including proteomics and phosphorylation analysis. This was based in Dr Adrien Rousseau's lab at MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (PPU), University of Dundee. I studied the proteasome, an essential large multiprotein complex responsible for degrading most proteins in the cell. In this project I helped identify multiple stress-sensitive phosphorylation sites on a protein (Shp1/p47) linked closely to proteasome function.

My current lecturing position in UCL Cell & Developmental Biology (CDB) is focused on teaching, but I retain a keen interest in protein degradation mechanisms. I am working closely with Prof Sandip Patel's lab as an 'honorary member' to start developing my own independent research and explore the link between autophagy and TPC (two-pore channel) proteins found on endolysosome membranes. In the near future, I hope to be able to provide training and supervision to new students, and in doing so, help clarify the mysterious role of calcium ions in the regulation of autophagy.

Teaching Summary

I teach a mixture of cell biology lectures and practicals, mainly to 1st and 2nd year students spanning all BSc/MSci Biosciences Undergraduate Programmes at UCL. The modules I am currently involved in are:

CELL0007 Cells and Development

CELL0008 Introduction to Cell Biology

CELL0009 Intermediate Cell Biology

CELL0012 Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine

BIOS0005 Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology for Human Sciences

BIOS0006 Writing and Presenting Bioscience

PHOL0008 Cell Signalling in Health & Disease

From academic year 2023/24 onwards, I will be involved in co-organising new and existing modules.

SEP-2019 – SEP-2022 Postdoctoral Research Assistant MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (PPU) University of Dundee, United Kingdom
SEP-2017 – AUG-2019 Postdoctoral Research Associate Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology (LMCB) UCL, United Kingdom
Academic Background
  PhD Molecular Cell Biology  
2013 BSc Biochemistry with Study in Industry  
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