Assistant Professor, Chemistry
- BS, Chemistry/Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology
- PhD, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of California, Los Angeles
Structure, function & evolution of RNA-processing assemblies; structural and computational biology; molecular biophysics
The Mura lab employs experimental and computational approaches to understand the structure, function/dynamics, and evolution of RNA- and DNA-based protein assemblies. In particular, we seek a deeper understanding of ribonucleoprotein (RNP) assemblies -- What these protein/RNA complexes look like at atomic resolution (structure), their assembly pathways and dynamical behavior (function), and the interrelationships between Sm and Sm-like systems (evolution).
Discovered as the antigens in the autoimmune disease lupus, Sm proteins are now known to form a broad, evolutionarily-conserved family that play key roles in most aspects of RNA metabolism (including mRNA splicing), as well as in bacterial cell-cell communication networks ("quorum sensing"). Sm-based complexes such as the spliceosome exceed the ribosome in terms of both size and architectural complexity, thereby providing an immensely rich area for ongoing studies.
Current work focuses on Sm systems drawn from both a well-established context (splicing) and a more recently emerging area (quorum sensing) that is of major biomedical significance because of its involvement in biofilm-mediated bacterial pathogenesis. The research program being developed to pursue this work is necessarly highly interdisciplinary, relying particularly heavily on methods from structural biology (e.g., crystallography) and computational chemistry (e.g., molecular dynamics simulations), in addition to traditional wet-lab biochemistry.