The lab of biochemistry professor Marvin Wickens studies how RNA molecules are controlled and interact with proteins. While RNA is the intermediary between DNA and proteins, it is not just a simple default: instead, RNA stability, translation and location all are regulated. Being able to define where RNAs are in a cell, across all the many thousands of RNAs in that cell, would be useful but is challenging. IPiB student Hugo Medina-Muñoz developed a method to accomplish this goal, which comprises the heart of his Ph.D. work. The method anchors an RNA modifying enzyme to a specific subcellular location, where the enzyme then labels any RNAs in its vicinity. Using the approach, Hugo identified both mRNA and non-coding RNA molecules at the outer surface of mitochondria or endoplasmic reticulum in live yeast and uncovered a conserved set of RNAs at both locations in both yeast and mammalian cells.
To learn more about Hugo’s new approach, attend his Thesis Defense on Friday, Oct. 4 in Room 1211 of the HFD Biochemical Sciences Building.