Jeffrey W. Roberts

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Primary Section: 26, Genetics
Secondary Section: 21, Biochemistry
Membership Type:
Member (elected 1999)

Research Interests

My colleagues and I have investigated two regulatory pathways in bacterial cells, determining biochemical mechanisms uncovered by genetic studies of bacteriophage lambda, one of the founding organisms of molecular biology. The first is the process of transcription antitermination, which cells use to express genes by disrupting termination, the enzymatic mechanism that normally provides boundaries of gene expression during mRNA synthesis. The other is the mechanism that underlies regulation of DNA repair in E. coli, showing that the recombinase RecA acts as transducer of the signal of DNA damage, causing induction of both DNA repair genes and the lambda prophage. Our current focus is to understand what structural alterations in RNA polymerase and nucleic acids underlie the opposing processes of transcription termination and antitermination.

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