Photo of John ArmstrongJohn Armstrong
Honorary Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry (Biochemistry)


The fission yeast S. pombe allows the use of powerful genetic methods to study the molecular basis of many biological processes, and is a good model for higher eukaryotic cells, including those of humans. We currently have three main areas of research:

1. Differentiation of S. pombe into invasive mycelia.

S. pombe is often described as single-celled. In fact we discovered that it can switch its growth form to make multicellular mycelia which invade the grwoth medium. A similar process happens during infection by pathogenic fungi, most of which are much more difficult to study. The cycle of single-celled growth and disvision is probably as well understood in S. pombe as in any organism. We are trying to find out exactly how this cycle is altered to make invasive mycelia.


2. Autophagy in S. pombe

Autophagy is the process by wich cells can consume parts of themselves to provide a temporary source of nutrients. It is becoming increasingly important in a wide variety of disease processes. We are studying its molecular basis in S. pombe, as a model for all eukaryotes.


3. Functional genomics of S. pombe

The advantage of working with S. pombe is that many advanced molecular methods are available which cannot be used in more complex eukaryotes. This now includes using comprehensive collections of mutants, each of which has lost one known gene from the genome, to identify very easily the genes involved in a particular biological process. We are developing strategies to combine this collection with methods for effieciently 'tagging' genes in vivo. These allow us to ask where a protein is located in the cell, to which other proteins it is attached, and how these properties change under different conditions.