Macromolecular Structure Group
mRNA Stability & Translation
Traci M. T. Hall, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator and Acting Chief, Structural Biology Laboratory
The Macromolecular Structure Group conducts fundamental research studying post-transcriptional gene regulatory pathways using molecular, biochemical, and structural approaches. A unifying theme of the group’s work is to understand the molecular basis of specificity in gene regulatory pathways and how such specificity can modulate both protective responses and susceptibility to environmental stressors.
RNA regulation is an important layer of cellular response to stimuli, and specificity of target RNA recognition is a critical facet for coordinating control of gene expression for individual genes as well as networks. Two of the major areas of study examine gene regulation by Pumilio/fem-3 mRNA binding factor (PUF) proteins and RNA interference. The role of these pathways in environmental response has not been extensively explored, providing the opportunity to lay the groundwork for future understanding.
Major areas of research:
- Structure and function of proteins involved in post-transcriptional gene regulation
- Understanding how proteins recognize RNA targets or substrates
- Examining how specificity defines networks of gene regulation
- Designing sequence-specific RNA-binding proteins
- Using structure determination and biochemical approaches, the group seeks to understand how PUF family proteins and other RNA-binding proteins use distinct mechanisms to specifically recognize their target RNA sequences and define gene regulatory networks.
- Using the human Pumilio1 RNA-binding domain as a template, the group seeks to create designed RNA-binding proteins that recognize specific RNA sequences and can be used as research tools.
- Using structure determination and biochemical approaches, the group seeks to understand the function of proteins involved in RNA silencing.
Traci M.T. Hall, Ph.D. is a tenured Senior Investigator leading the Macromolecular Structure Group and Acting Chief of the Laboratory of Structural Biology. She earned her B.S. in biochemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her Ph.D. in pharmacology and molecular sciences from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She was an American Association for the Advancement of Science Diplomacy Fellow with the U.S. Agency for International Development and a postdoctoral fellow with Daniel J. Leahy at Johns Hopkins before joining the NIEHS in 1998.