U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Research Summary/In Plain Language

Research Summary

Research Goal

The goal of our research is to gain a detailed structural and mechanistic understanding of cellular and viral noncoding RNAs and their associated ribonucleoprotein complexes involved in gene regulation and human diseases.  We are working to uncover general motifs and principles that govern RNA tertiary structure formation, RNA recognition by another RNA or protein, and how dynamic RNA structures contribute to the regulation of gene expression and human pathophysiology.

Current Research

  1. Structure, mechanism, targeting, and engineering of gene-regulatory riboswitches
  2. tRNA-mediated stress sensing and response pathways in eukaryotes
  3. HIV and other viral RNA structures and their protein complexes

Applying our Research

Structural and mechanistic elucidation of functionally important gene-regulatory noncoding RNAs and viral RNAs will inform and guide design of novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies against bacterial and viral infections, metabolic disorders, and cancer.

Need for Further Study

Our research aims to help illuminate the molecular structure, function, and mechanisms of the  "dark matter" of the transcriptome, the non-coding RNAs that execute various cellular functions, as well as viral RNA strucures that enable viral transcription, replication, packaging, and infectivity. Detailed understanding of these non-coding structured RNAs will lead to novel therapeutics that improve human health.