RNA molecules play essential roles in nearly every stage of gene expression, usually as part of RNA-protein complexes or RNPs. Indeed, one of the most exciting developments in recent years is the discovery of small RNAs that shut off the expression of other genes during development or in response to environmental signals. In order for RNA molecules to function inside a cell, they must fold into specific three-dimensional shapes. These 3D structures are dynamic, undergoing specific changes during the assembly of an RNA-protein complex, or during regulatory cycles.

The study of how RNAs fold will help us understand how they work as catalysts or as genetic switches. Recently, we have begun to apply the principles obtained from ribozyme folding to other biologically important problems, including ribosome assembly and target recognition by small regulatory RNAs. Ultimately, we hope to produce tools to diagnose and treat human diseases that arise from RNA malfunction.

Dr. Sarah Woodson

Johns Hopkins University
Department of Biophysics
402 Jenkins Hall
3400 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21218
[email protected]
(410) 516-2015 office
(410) 516-7348 lab
(410) 516-4118 fax