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Research Overview

Nuclear mRNA Export in Health and Disease

All cellular life relies on the integrity of gene expression. Human cells carry more than 20,000 different mRNAs. Fully processed mRNAs in the nucleus are exported to the cytoplasm where protein translation occurs. This nuclear mRNA export process plays a key role in gene expression and can be a driver of various diseases when it is dysregulated, such as in cancer, neurological disorders, and viral infection.

As mRNA is synthesized and processed, it is packaged with proteins to form ribonucleoprotein particles (mRNPs). These proteins are recruited and released in a highly regulated manner, a process referred to as mRNP remodeling. mRNP remodeling plays a critical role in driving the process of mRNA export, but the sequence and logic of the underlying molecular events remains elusive.

The Ren Laboratory combines the power of structural biology, biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology to elucidate the nuclear mRNA export process with the focus on two main areas.

  • Determine the sequence and mechanism of events that prepare nuclear mRNA for export
  • Investigate how mRNA export is altered in response to physiological and pathological conditions