The Ferré-D'Amaré group is broadly interested in elucidating the physical and chemicalunderpinnings for the biological functions of RNA, and in applying the resulting insights to the development of molecular and pharmacological interventions in health and disease states. (Link to http://rna.nhlbi.nih.gov/)
1. Catalytic RNAs
Ribozymes are RNA molecules that can precisely position reactants and accelerate chemical reactions by preferentially stabilizing their transition states. Some fundamental biological processes (such as translation, splicing and tRNA maturation) are universally catalyzed by ribozymes.
More detail can be found here: http://rna.nhlbi.nih.gov/research_catalyticRNAs.html
2. Gene-regulatory RNAs
Our group has been particularly interested in riboswitches, which are RNA domains of mRNAs that can regulate gene expression in -cis, in response to the intracellular concentration of their cognate ligands. Ligands vary from simple ions and metabolites to second messengers to other RNA molecules.
More detail can be found here: http://rna.nhlbi.nih.gov/research_geneRegulatoryRNAs.html
3. Pharmacological targeting of cellular RNAs
Many RNAs are essential for cellular function, both in humans and in pathogens. They are attractive candidates for drug development. Our investigation of the principles underlying small molecule-RNA recognition sets the stage for rational development of lead compounds for novel antibiotics and chemotherapeutics.
More detail can be found here: http://rna.nhlbi.nih.gov/research_smallMolecule.html