Gene expression can be regulated at multiple levels. This allows organisms to respond fast to specific cellular stimuli while still maintaining a stable internal environment. This regulation is often achieved through chemical marks on DNA, and proteins.
Recently, RNA marks have also been described as key regulators of gene expression. They are involved in essential cellular roles, such as development and stress, and their deregulation is linked to human disorders, including cancer, infertility and depression. Despite their fundamental importance, the mechanisms that dictate how these marks are added on RNA and regulated remains poorly understood. The Casañal Group will combine cryo-EM with biochemical and biophysical methods to determine the three-dimensional structure of the macromolecular machines that add and read out RNA marks. This will explain how RNA modifications work within the cell, and how they impact disease, which, in turn, will help to discover new therapeutic targets for drug development.