Greehey CCRI Seminar Series: Adrian Ferre-D’Amare, PhD NIH / NHLBI
Event Date & TimeFebruary 25, 2022 at 11:00 AM CST
Presentation Title: “RNA Analogs of Green Fluorescent Protein: How to Make Ribonucleic Acids Glow”
Greehey CCRI Host: David S. Libich, PhD
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About the Speaker(s)
Ribonucleic acids (RNA) are remarkable molecules. In addition to serving their classical role as carriers of genetic information, they are also cellular machines that perform enzymatic functions previously only ascribed to proteins. Furthermore, since RNA molecules are simultaneously capable of carrying genetic information and functioning as catalysts, they can be subjected to evolutionary selection pressures and may have formed the basis for ancestral life. Finally, RNA’s central role in life suggests that its potential therapeutic value is barely tapped but already clinically validated: approximately 80 percent of antibiotics in use today target a single type of RNA-containing enzyme, the ribosome, and most do so by targeting its RNA component.
Dr. Ferré-D’Amaré studies RNA molecules in their many guises. His laboratory develops and exploits fundamental biophysical approaches to understanding the function of ribozymes (catalytic RNAs) and the interactions between RNA and proteins at the level of atomic structure. Dr. Ferré-D’Amaré is also interested in the role of RNA molecules in gene regulation and signal transduction (e.g. mRNA riboswitches that directly bind to small molecule metabolites and modulate transcription, translation, or splicing). He and his colleagues focus on the way RNA molecules fold into three-dimensional structures and how they are modified post-transcriptionally. Finally, he uses the dual function of RNA molecules as information carriers and catalytic agents to artificially evolve them and study their properties.