Regulation of RNA Synthesis and Decay via the C-terminal Domain of Pol II
Sandy Tseng of the Ansari lab studies the process by which information in our genes is deciphered and used to make RNA and proteins that do the cell’s work. For her Ph.D. research, Sandy developed an exciting new way to switch off the cell’s engine that reads genes and transcribes them to RNA (RNA polymerase II). To her surprise, stopping the engine in its tracks did not change the total RNA levels in the cell. She had inadvertently stumbled on a process called “RNA buffering” where cells react to a wide array of crises by protecting their stores of RNA. This insight resolved a long-standing debate on what is needed to let the engine depart from the station and run down the DNA tracks to make RNA. Serendipitously, it turns out that her chemical strategy to turn off the engine closely mirrors the mechanism of action of a new class of chemicals that are being developed as cancer drugs. Sandy’s chemical-genomic studies in brewer’s yeast explained the confusing side-effects of the drug leads in human cancer cells and her insights suggest novel therapeutic strategies.
Learn more about Sandy’s research at her Thesis Review on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 1 p.m. in Room 1211 of the HFD Biochemical Sciences Building.