Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, 2007
Area of focus:
RNA modifications and RNA-modifying enzymes
There are more than one hundred known chemical modifications of RNA. Modifications are sites specifically positioned in RNA molecules and are found in all three domains of life (archaea, prokaryotes, eukaryotes). tRNA and rRNA contain numerous different RNA modifications, while six are currently known to occur in mRNA (2'-O-methyl, pseudouridine, 5-methylcytosine, 5- hydoxymethycytosine, N1-methyladenosine, N6-methyladenosine). The precise roles of mRNA modifications are not known. In cells, post-transcriptional RNA modifications are introduced in two ways. The first pathway uses a stand-alone enzyme that modifies specific positions on the target RNA, while a second pathway uses a ribonucleoprotein complex containing a short guide-RNA called small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA) to achieve this. My group is interested in the identification and characterization of both types of RNA-modifying enzymes and determining their substrate specificity and biological role in the cell.