Dr. Harding is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and a Principal Investigator at the Structural Genomics Consortium. Dr. Harding completed her undergraduate in biochemistry and DPhil in structural biology at the University of Oxford, before moving to the University of Toronto for her postdoctoral training. The focus of Dr. Harding’s research is the huntingtin protein, mutated in people with Huntington’s disease. Huntington’s is a devastating, incurable, genetic, neurodegenerative disease caused by a CAG-tract expansion in the Huntingtin gene. Dr. Harding studies the structure-function of the huntingtin protein in both its wildtype and disease forms, with a view to better understand the mechanisms of disease, as well as trying to find new avenues of therapeutic intervention.
The huntingtin is a ~348 kDa proteinexpressed in every cell of our bodies and is often thought of as a "swiss army knife" protein, implicated in a plethora of cellular functions ranging from transcriptional regulation and DNA damage repair to axonal transport and proteostasis. The diversity of huntingtin functions is attributed to its ability to interact with thousands of proteins, with different huntingtin scaffolded complexes thought to execute its range of functions. However, the molecular details of how the huge huntingtin protein can interact its large diaspora of binding partners, how