Design and Single Molecule Analysis of RNA Nanomachines: Building Bridges from Lab to Clinic

Design and Single Molecule Analysis of RNA Nanomachines: Building Bridges from Lab to Clinic

April 8, 2019


727 E. Tyler St.
Tempe, AZ 85281


Biodesign Institute, Auditorium

Date and Time

April 23, 2019, 10:00 am (Length: 1 hour 0 minutes)

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Nils Walter, PhD, Francis S. Collins Collegiate Professor of Chemistry, Biophysics & Biological Chemistry, College of Literature, Science & the Arts,  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Nature and nanotechnology employ nanoscale machines that self-assemble into structures of complex architecture and functionality.  Sequencing of human DNA genome reveal that it is mostly (>90%) dedicated to making its cousin molecule RNA (ribonucleic acid), while only <2% of it encodes proteins.  This seminal discovery opens a path toward personalized medical treatments of challenging human disease including cancer and bacterial infections. Single molecule fluorescence microscopy offers a non-invasive tool to probe and ultimately dissect the underlying RNA nanomachines in real-time.  The Walter lab has leveraged tools to address the overarching hypothesis that dynamic RNA structures are a major determinant of the outcomes of gene expression. Dr. Walter and his team recently combined single-molecule, biochemical and computational simulation approaches to show that transcriptional pausing at a site immediately downstream of a bacterial riboswitch requires a ligand-free pseudoknot in the nascent RNA.  His lab is also developing single-cell, single-molecule nanoscopy imaging tools to observe single RNA nanomachines in action within their natural habitat, inside living cancer cells.  Finally, his team developed a microscopy tool to detect, discriminate and count single biomarkers of disease in minimally treated biological specimens, with potential applications in clinical diagnostics.

This is part of the Biodesign Institute Discovery Seminar Series.