FRI Biochemistry Stream

Gene Networks

biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, vertebrate interactome mapping

our research

Our Research

The Gene Networks Stream studies the ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes that participate in gene expression, and in particular, complexes that interact and process RNAs. RNPs can regulate splicing to create multiple mRNAs from a single gene, and control the stability, cellular localization and translation of mRNAs produced.  Our goal is to understand what RNPs do and how they function.  

We are currently exploring:

  • DExH box RNA helicases that function in gene expression by remodeling ribonucleoproteins.
  • G patch domain containing proteins that are frequently seen to interact with DExH proteins and regulate their specificity and activity.

Our Strategy

Students in the lab use molecular cloning techniques to build recombinant DNA plasmids in which the sequences encoding a protein have been engineered to add an affinity tag – an extra protein segment that makes the protein easy to both identify and to purify.  Using our knowledge of function of these proteins we introduce mutations into the proteins that should block their catalytic activity without altering their folding or interactions with other molecules.  We also introduce mutations that are associated with human genetic diseases and cancer.  Following expression, effects on cell function, proliferation and apoptosis are determined, shedding light on the role the protein plays in these processes.


Our Impact

Our primary approach involves the expression of affinity tagged proteins in mammalian cells, which permits the tag-mediated purification of complexes that contain the protein.  We use this approach to understand the functions of these proteins in normal cells, and their role in the pathology of cancer and developmental defects. This information will provide clues as to the function of specific proteins, and the mechanisms by which their malfunction leads to disease.

Our Team

Profile image of Albert MacKrell

Albert MacKrell

  • Assistant Professor of Practice
  • Freshman Research Initiative
  • College of Natural Sciences
Telephone Number:5122329377
Building: WEL
Room Number:3.306
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Course Credit
Research Outcomes

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