Research Overview

mRNP assembly and nuclear export in health and disease

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mRNA is packaged with numerous proteins into a ribonucleoprotein particle (mRNP) at all stages of its life. In humans, there are tens of thousands of different mRNA sequences, and many hundreds of mRNA binding proteins. Each mRNP is a unique entity representing the functional form of an individual mRNA. To date, molecular understanding of mRNP structure, dynamics, and function remains obscure.

The Ren Laboratory seeks to investigate the mechanistic and functional aspects of mRNP biology using a broad range of tools including X-ray crystallography, single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, in vitro reconstitution, and cell biological assays. We are particularly interested in the process of mRNP export from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, which is essential for gene expression in all eukaryotes and is often disrupted in various human diseases. Our current work aims to:

  • Characterize the molecular events that generate mature mRNPs for nuclear export
  • Understand how dysregulation of the mRNP export machinery contributes to human diseases