Mechanisms of RNA Remodeling

RNA is a highly versatile molecule, in that it carries information both in primary sequence and in higher-order structural features. The structural information encoded in RNA enables a higher degree of function (as observed in ribozymes, for example), as well as specificity for other elements in the cell. These structure-dependent activities present the opportunity for additional layers of regulation and, indeed, numerous classes of RNA remodeling proteins have been identified. We are particularly interested in the DEAD-box family of RNA helicases, which play numerous critical roles in cellular RNA processing. We are currently using structural biology combined with RNA biochemistry to determine how this family of RNA remodelers regulates RNA biogenesis.