Research Interests

Dr. Dinshaw Patel's structural biology research program is centered on an understanding of molecular processes controlling gene regulation, with recent emphasis on projects involving RNA silencing-based suppression of genes and the role of DNA's packaging proteins in spatial and temporal regulation of gene function. His group's research has profoundly impacted on the RNA silencing field through definitive structural characterization of recognition events associated with targeting duplex length, 5'-phosphate and 3'-overhang ends of small interfering RNAs. His research has also provided a mechanistic framework for argonaute-mediated site-specific cleavage of messenger RNA through systematic studies of argonaute complexes with bound guide strand and added target strand, thereby identifying the nucleic acid-binding channel, the base pairing within the seed segment, the alignment at the catalytic cleavage site, and the conformational transitions on binary and ternary complex formation. His group's structure-function studies on epigenetic regulation have provided mechanistic insights into recognition by writers, readers, and erasures of site-specific lysine modification marks on histones and their contribution to the establishment and maintenance of chromatin-mediated epigenetic ON/OFF states. In particular, his research has addressed how post-translational modifications of nucleosomal histones regulate access to the underlying DNA by modulating local chromatin structure.

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Primary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry

Secondary Section

Section 29: Biophysics and Computational Biology