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Trinity College Dublin

Personal Information
College Photo Name Bond, Ursula Mary
Main Department Microbiology
College Title Associate Professor
College Tel +353 1 896 1817/2578
Fax +353 1 679 9294
Membership of Professional Institutions, Associations, Societies
Details Date From Date To
Member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Member of the American Society of Microbiologists
Member of the RNA Society
Member Society for General Microbiology
Awards and Honours
Award Date
Gerti T Cori award in Biochemistry 1984
Anna Fuller Cancer Fellowship 1987
Description of Research Interests
Ursula Bond, Eukaryotic Gene Expression and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Microbiology. 1. Characterisation of Lager Yeasts The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is an ideal model system to advance our understanding of the rules and principles of cellular systems. We are currently conducting a systematic analysis of the genome and transcriptome of the industrially important strains of yeasts. We discovered that the genomes of lager yeasts are extremely dynamic and undergo rearrangements in response to environmental stress. Expanding on our knowledge of industrial genomes, we are interested in generating industrial yeasts with improved characteristics such as increased ethanol tolerance and improved fermentation capacity, using an adaptive evolution approach. We have also developed yeast strains expressing natural antimicrobial peptides which can prevent the growth of beer-spoiling bacterial in industrial fermentations. 2. Biomass to Biofuel. As the world enters a post fossil fuel era, there is an urgent need to identify alternative environmentally sustainable energy sources. One potential energy source is biomass such as grasses, woody plants, or industrial waste. Energy in biomass is stored as lignocellulose which is broken down by enzymes called cellulases. A current goal in the biofuel industry is to generate microorganisms that can breakdown the cellulose in biomass into a sugars which can be fermented into ethanol, a process called consolidated bioprocessing. Industrial yeasts such as those used in the brewing and distilling industries are robust producers of ethanol, however they do not possess the enzymes to degrade cellulose. Our laboratory have developed a series of yeast strains expressing the genes encoding for the cellulase enzymes from the fungus Trichoderma reesei. The yeast strains secrete the recombinant enzymes into the medium and are capable of degrading cellulose. We are currently optimising for the production of the cellulase enzymes and generating new strains capable of degrading both cellulose and hemicellulose. 3. RNA Production during the Cell Cycle in Yeasts We have been analysing the mechanisms controlling the synthesis of histone messenger RNAs during the yeast cell cycle. The ends of histone mRNAs in higher eukaryotes such as humans was very unusual and lack a characteristic ‘PolyA’ tail. This unusual structure is extremely important to the cell cycle regulation of histone mRNAs. Surprisingly yeast histone mRNAs do have a PolyA tail and yet the mRNAs are also cell cycle regulated. Therefore, an interesting evolutionary question arises as to why such diverse mechanisms have emerged in yeasts and human cells to control a very important regulatory mechanism. Our current research focusses on the role of proteins such as Sen1p and Rrp6 in the degradation of histone mRNAs during the cell cycle. 4. Stress and Cancer A key requirement for the development of cancer immunotherapy is the identification of tumour-associated antigens that are differentially or exclusively expressed on the tumour and recognized by the host immune system. Unfortunately, immune responses to such antigens are often muted or lacking due to the antigens being recognized as “self”, by the tumour environment and regulation of immune cells within. To circumvent the lack of immune responses to tumour antigens, we have devised a strategy to develop potential synthetic immunogens using a strategy, termed mirror image phage display. Using this approach we have developed a series of molecular mimics of known and unknown tumour antigenss and show that the mimic molecules display characteristics such as immunstimulation of T-cells in vitro. These molecular mimics cross-stimulate T-cells previously stimulated with the native antigen. Thus mimic peptides are good candidates for the generation of a cancer vaccine.
Research Interests
Cancer Biology Cell cycle regulation in yeasts Gene Expression in yeasts Genetic Engineering
Genetics Genome structures in brewery yeasts Molecular Biology Molecular Genetics
Molecular markers and recognition Nuclei acids, polynucleotides, protein synthesis Tumour markers mRNA metabolism
Research Projects
Project title Preventing Beer Spoilage in Lager Fermentations: Optimisation of the production of the antimicrobial defensin peptides in lager strains of yeast, a natural defense against beer-spoiling bacteria
Summary Beer spoilage is a major concern to every Master Brewer in the world. Contamination of brews with beer spoiling bacteria can lead to loss of entire batches of beer resulting in severe financial losses for the brewery. Product withdrawal or recall can have major implications for Brand and business. In a FIRM-funded research project, we have tested whether the naturally occurring antimicrobial agent β-defensin, which forms part of the innate immune system in humans, could be effective as a bacteriocidal agent against beer spoiling bacteria (BSMs). Having demonstrated the effectiveness of β-defensin against BSMs, we then engineered a lager yeast strain to express β-defensin and to secrete the peptide into the beer. The secreted peptide was capable of killing BSMs seeded during fermentation but not in bottled beer. This novel approach not only provides a prophylactic mechanism to prevent beer-spoilage but additionally provides added neutraceutic value to the product as the small quantities of the antimicrobial peptide remaining in the lager can enhance the natural levels of β-defensin in the oral cavity. Defensins are important in maintaining the natural balance of the normal flora of the oral cavity and to protect against bacterial infections. The purpose of the proposed research is the carry out a number of experiments to determine the optimum conditions for the production of β-defensin during and after fermentations and to determine the effective bacterial load that can be eliminated by β-defensin in contaminated fermentations. Our ultimate goal will be to prepare a patent application to protect and license the yeast strains expressing β-defensin and other subsequent modification. To achieve this, we will instigate a Road to Commercialisation strategy involving preparation of an Invention Disclosure Form, market analysis, identification and engagement with of potential industrial partners with the aim of licensing the technology to stakeholders in the Brewery Industry.
Funding Agency Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine
Programme FIRM Plus
Type of Project Research and Development
Date from
Date to
Person Months

Project title Bioengineering bespoke yeast strains to convert biomass to biofuel.
Summary Biomass is an alternative source of sustainable energy as we enter the post fossil fuel era. The goal of our research is to bio-engineer bespoke yeast strains, which are capable of converting cellulosic biomass to bioethanol by melding together the fermentative capacity of yeasts with the cellulosic degradation properties of the fungus Trichoderma reesi. Such yeast strains have commercial potential through licensing to Bioethanol-producing companies, for the development of an indigenous Irish Bioethanol Industry and of benefit to breweries and distilleries for the extraction of sugars from spent grains, which currently are a waste product in both industries.
Funding Agency Science Foundation Ireland
Programme TIDA
Type of Project
Date from
Date to
Person Months

Project title Antimicrobial peptide preventing beer spoilage wit neutraceutic potential
Funding Agency Department of Agriculture and Food
Programme Food Institutional Research Measure
Type of Project Research
Date from 01/10/06
Date to 30/09/09
Person Months

Project title Synthetic Immuno-modulatory Ppetides for Cancer Therapy
Funding Agency Enterprise Ireland
Programme Commercialisation Fund/Technology Development
Type of Project Research and Development
Date from 01/10/06
Date to 30/09/09
Person Months

More Research Projects>>>
Publications and Other Research Outputs
Peer Reviewed
Suzanne Beggs, Tharappel C. James and Ursula Bond, The PolyA tail length of yeast histone mRNAs varies during the cell cycle and is influenced by Sen1p and Rrp6p, Nucleic Acids Research, 40, (6), 2012, p2700 - 2711
TARA - Full Text
James, T.C. and U, Bond, Molecular Mimics of the Tumour Antigen MUC1, PLOS One, 7, (11), 2012, p1-10
TARA - Full Text  URL
Querol, A and Bond U, The complex and dynamic genomes of industrial yeasts. , FEMS Microbiol Lett. , 293, (1), 2009, p1 - 10
Arnaiz,B., Madrigal-Estabas, L., Todryk, S., James, T. C., Doherty, D. and U. Bond, A Novel Method to Identify and Characterise Peptide Mimotopes of Heat Shock Protein 70-associated antigens, Journal of Immune Based Therapies and Vaccines, 4, (2), 2006
T.C. James, D. Donnelly and U. Bond, Aneuploidy and copy number breakpoints in the genome of lager yeasts mapped by microarray hybridisation, Current Genetics, 24, 2004, p360 - 370
More Publications and Other Research Outputs >>>

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Last Updated:22-SEP-2014