The molecular machinery of RNA metabolism and riboregulation in bacteria


  • Prof Ben Luisi

    University of Cambridge

Project summary

In response to stress and environmental changes, bacteria generate hundreds of small RNA molecules that have key roles in regulating gene expression. This process of riboregulation involves chaperone proteins that facilitate the actions of regulatory RNAs, and enzymes that affect RNA transcript lifetimes.

I aim to understand the molecular basis of riboregulation by taking a multidisciplinary approach. I will use biochemical and structural analyses, including cryoEM and cryoET, to visualise how RNA transcripts are captured and channelled to active sites, either for degradation or processing. I will also identify the RNA targets of chaperone proteins and the degradative machinery, and explore whether the patterns change with physiological state or during the cell cycle, and why.

These studies will help to explain how small RNAs enhance the speed and accuracy of bacterial genetic regulation, enriching the capacity of the simplest organisms to exhibit complex behaviour.