Jackson Laboratory Associate Professor Jeffrey Chuang, Ph.D., has been awarded a two-year grant totaling $519,750 from the National Human Genome Research Institute for his studies of how RNA (molecules vital to protein formation in cells) interacts with proteins to change how genes are expressed.
"Gene regulation at the RNA level is central to many human diseases," says Chuang, "including cancer, muscular dystrophy, and many of the most common learning disabilities. Advances in understanding the underlying mechanisms of RNA-protein interaction have great value for improving health."
DNA provides the blueprint for building and running a living organism, but some proteins in the cell act like change orders in a construction plan. Binding to DNA molecules, these proteins can change how genes are expressed. While DNA-protein interactions for hundreds of proteins have been cataloged and studied, protein interactions with RNA are less well known.
"Scientific understanding of RNA-level gene regulation is rudimentary, despite the fact that this type of regulation probably influences the function of most genes," Chuang says. "Excitingly, several groups around the world, notably our collaborators in the Brenton Graveley lab at the University of Connecticut, have started to generate new types of experimental data on RNA-protein interactions."
Chuang notes that interpreting these new data poses a major analysis challenge. "We have developed a new mathematical and computational approach to decipher how RNAs interact with proteins from these types of data, which will be critical for understanding the root causes of many diseases."
|Contact: Joyce Peterson|