RNAs are intimately involved in a wide variety of biological activities. During the process of gene expression, they serve as both the informational molecules and as part of the decoding machinery. Biological molecules, including RNA, must fold into the correct 3-dimensional shape to acquire their active-functional form. The ability to predict of RNA structure from sequence will improve our understanding of RNA and its biological role. The specific aim of this project is to characterize the thermodynamic stability of RNA bulge and hairpin loops. These studies will combine both thermodynamic and structural characterization of the RNA duplexes to achieve a better understanding of the nature of RNA bulge loops.
Undergraduate students will perform all of the investigations, including the selection of sequences to be investigated, providing them with excellent training and valuable research experience. Allegheny chemistry students have an excellent track record for attending graduate and professional schools after obtaining their BS degrees. From the last five years, nine of these students are attending graduate school in either chemistry or biochemistry and five are attending medical school. The graduate programs attended by students include Yale University, University of Rochester, Penn State University, Duke University and University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.