Marilena F. Hall

Biography

Dr. Marilena Hall received her B.S. in Chemistry in 1992 from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She then earned her Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology (NSERC Fellowship) where she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Jacqueline K. Barton. Her thesis involved the design of a synthetic deoxyribonuclease using a chimera of a DNA-binding rhodium complex and a short Zn2+ -coordinating peptide.

From 1998-2000, Dr. Hall carried out post-doctoral research at New England Biolabs in Beverly, MA creating an artificial bifunctional intein capable of both protein splicing and homing endonuclease activity. During her post-doc, she was also an adjunct professor at Massasoit Community College, teaching general chemistry from 1999-2000. Professor Hall joined the Stonehill Department of Chemistry in the Fall of 2000.

Professor Hall’s research program employs peptide phage display libraries to identify short peptides that can mimic the coordination of Zn2+ in zinc-containing metalloenzymes.

Several undergraduates have participated in projects that have involved (i) screening 7-mer and 12-mer peptide libraries to identify putative zinc-binding peptides, (ii) developing a phage-ELISA assay to quantify the zinc-binding of individual peptides sequences, and (iii) characterizing the structure of Zn2+-peptide complexes using NMR.

In screening the Ph.D.-7 phage display library from New England Biolabs against zinc, Prof. Hall’s lab became aware of a target-unrelated peptide of the sequence HAIYPRH that has also been selected by several other laboratories using completely different targets.

The characterization of this particular clone led to the discovery that a point mutation in the phage genome causes a faster rate of phage propagation. The displayed peptide HAIYPRH is merely coincident with the mutation, and the enrichment of this clone in the pool of phage leads to its target-independent appearance in many experiments.

Future directions of this research will involve the investigation of how mutations in the ribosome-binding sites of M13 phage proteins affect phage propagation.

Education

  • B.S. Chemistry, McGill University
  • Ph.D. Chemistry, California Institute of Technology

Accomplishments

  • Research Corporation Cottrell College Science Award to fund project entitled Modeling the Zn2+ Coordination Site of Zinc Metalloenzymes Using Peptide Phage Display, 2003.

Courses Taught

  • Biochemistry Laboratory
  • Biochemistry I
  • General Chemistry I
  • General Chemistry II