Election Year: 2003
Primary Section: 22, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Secondary Section: 24, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Membership Type: Member
As a molecular geneticist, I have worked with my students and postdoctoral associates on various aspects of gene expression as well as on circadian rhythms. Our gene expression work has focused on nuclear RNA processing, namely, the complex set or reactions that RNA undergoes within the nucleus. We have used the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as an experimental organism, because of the ability to apply genetic methods to the study of these processing reactions. We originally focused on pre-mRNA splicing and have become interested more recently in more general aspects of nuclear RNP (RNA-protein) formation as well as the mechanistic requirements for RNA transport from the nucleus to the cytoplasm: the travels of an RNA molecule from birth to its function in protein synthesis. Our circadian rhythm work has used the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as an experimental system. Like humans, flies undergo circa. 24 hour behavioral and molecular rhythms. The rich genetics of Drosophila has allowed the identification and study of the proteins that underlie the central clock in flies, i.e., the quartz crystal for circadian timekeeping. Remarkably, the same proteins function in a very similar way to run mammalian clocks, including those of humans.