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MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit



Sotiria Tavoulari

Preferred first name: Roula









Dr Sotiria Tavoulari is a Senior Research Associate at the Mitochondrial Biology Unit, specialising in molecular mechanisms of transport across biological membranes and the involvement of transport processes in human pathophysiology. Originally from Greece, Dr Tavoulari received a BSc in Chemistry, a MSc in Biotechnology and a PhD in Biological Chemistry from the University of Ioannina before moving to Yale University, USA as a postdoctoral Fellow. There, she studied structure/function relationships and conformational dynamics of neurotransmitter transporters and elucidated mechanisms of substrate transport and the inhibition by psychoactive drugs. In 2015, she moved to the United Kingdom and has since worked at the MRC, Mitochondrial Biology Unit on mitochondrial transport processes central to human metabolism, their connection to human diseases and their use as drug targets.

Research Interests

Dr Tavoulari is currently investigating molecular mechanisms of metabolite transport in mitochondria and has a particular interest in understanding how dysfunction of mitochondrial transport processes leads to human diseases in order to develop therapeutic strategies. She has recently characterised the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC) complex, a protein emerging as a drug target for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, diabetes and metabolically dependent cancers. Dr Tavoulari has been studying the interactions of MPC with medically-relevant small molecule drugs and has been developing more potent ones. As a major focus, Dr Tavoulari is also studying the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying Citrin Deficiency, a genetic disorder caused by defects in the mitochondrial aspartate/glutamate antiporter (citrin).

Selected Publications

Tavoulari S*, Thangaratnarajah C, Mavridou V, Harbour ME, Martinou JC, Kunji ER* (2019) The yeast mitochondrial pyruvate carrier is a hetero-dimer in its functional state
EMBO J 38:e100785 (*corresponding authors)

Tavoulari S*, Schirris TJJ, Mavridou V, Thangaratnarajah C, King MS, Jones DTD, Ding S, Fearnley IM, Kunji ERS* (2022)
Key features of inhibitor binding to the human mitochondrial pyruvate carrier hetero-dimer
Mol Metab 60: 101469 (*corresponding authors)

Tavoulari S, Lacabanne D, Thangaratnarajah C, Kunji ERS (2022)
Pathogenic variants of the mitochondrial aspartate/glutamate carrier causing citrin deficiency
Trends Endocrinol Metab 33: 539-553

Mavridou V, King MS, Tavoulari S, Ruprecht JJ, Palmer SM, Kunji ERS (2022)
Substrate binding in the mitochondrial ADP/ATP carrier is a step-wise process guiding the structural changes in the transport cycle
Nat Commun 13: 3585