Lydia M. Contreras (University of Texas, Austin)


Location: B01 McCourtney Hall

Abstract: Bacterial regulatory RNAs enable dynamic responses to stresses caused by changes in environmental conditions. These global regulators enable responses to diverse and rapidly changing environmental stimuli by affecting vast networks of targets at, frequently, multiple biological levels. Given their relevance to pathogenesis and their potential to manage global regulatory networks that affect biological production of industrially relevant compounds, understanding their functions is a goal in both medicine and metabolic engineering. Given the importance of molecular structural arrangements to RNA functioning, fundamental characterization of native RNA networks depend heavily on the understanding and design of their specific shapes and on the retargeting of specific binding partners. Specifically, knowledge of the RNA structural landscape supports identification of interfaces relevant to regulation. In this talk, we will describe our recent advances in developing high throughput approaches that allow for the simultaneous in vivo characterization of thousands of potential interacting interfaces in RNA molecules. We will describe how RNA structural insights obtained from this synthetic probing approach can be used in the basic characterization of newly discovered RNAs and in the discovery of novel RNA mechanisms. The talk will also highlight our use of these methods in conjunction with new biophysical model and machine learning approaches for expanding our understanding of sRNA-regulation in bacteria.

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