Yunsun Nam, Ph.D.


My lab investigates the first step in the production of microRNAs—an important class of small regulatory RNAs—that play an unexpected role in controlling gene activity. These microRNAs are produced from a larger precursor, which is cut and processed to form the functional microRNA. The first step of microRNA processing begins in the cell nucleus where the long precursor RNA is identified, and its ends are removed. How this occurs is unknown. Our goal is to characterize specific structures of key proteins involved in processing the precursor RNAs, in order to identify how the correct long RNAs are found and then cut. Using a combination of biochemical and biophysical methods coupled with cutting-edge sequencing technologies, this work will lead to a deeper understanding of how microRNAs are made, and could reveal a strategy for designing novel classes of cancer therapeutic microRNAs.

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