Una Milovanovic


Mentor: Dr. Linda Bloom

College of Medicine

"Desire to help investigate biological pathways in order to produce useful information that could serve to fight diseases."





Research Interests

  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Chemistry

Academic Awards

  • Citizenship Award for School and Public Service presented by the office of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz 2015
  • Advanced International Certificate of Education Diploma 2016
  • Hollywood Florida Scholarship Foundation 2016
  • University Scholars Program 2016


  • Health Occupations Students of America
  • Balkan Student Association


  • Volunteer at Florida Cancer Specialist Foundation

Hobbies and Interests

  • Volleyball
  • Tennis
  • Painting
  • Singing

Research Description

Exploring tripartite interaction between YoaA, HolC, and SSB, required for repair of DNA damage made by AZT
"The structure of DNA is constantly being challenged by chemicals that are naturally present in cells including oxygen and water. It has been estimated that 20,000 DNA damaging events occur within a cell in a 24 hour period. If those damages do not get fixed, the genetic code will be altered and chromosomes may break. This issue is addressed by cell mechanisms where the damaged bit of DNA is removed and the undamaged DNA strand is used as a template to remake the damaged strand. However, there is some damage that does not get repaired prior to DNA replication. In this case, cell have to conduct special mechanisms to either fix the damaged DNA during replication or bypass the damage and fix it later. Our collaborators in the Lovett laboratory at Brandeis University use genetic approaches in Escherichia coli, a model organism, to discover processes that can repair DNA damage during replication. They recently discovered a pathway that requires at least two proteins, HolC and YoaA, to give cells tolerance to DNA damage created by 3’-azido3’-thymidine (AZT). AZT is a chain terminator so that when it is incorporated into DNA by a DNA polymerase, the DNA polymer cannot be extended any further. Thus, DNA replication is blocked. When the polymerase stops, single-stranded DNA starts to accumulate and is bound by a protein called single-stranded DNA binding protein or SSB. The Lovett laboratory discovered a new gene, YoaA, that gives cells tolerance to AZT. Prior to this study, the function of the YoaA gene was not known. Based on its sequence, YoaA encodes a DNA helicase, and enzyme that unwinds DNA strands. Based on the sequence of the YoaA gene, we expect the YoaA protein to be DNA helicase that is related to another DNA helicase in E.coli named DinG, with its role to unwind the damaged DNA so that a nuclease can cleave the AZT from the end. Furthermore, we hypothesize that there is a tripartite interaction, YoaA-HolC-SSB, that is needed for YoaA to bump the polymerase off DNA and unwind DNA."div>