James R. Williamson
RNA has an important role in a variety of cellular processes including transcription, mRNA processing, and translation. There is abundant genetic and biochemical information concerning the functions of RNA in these processes. There is, however, little three-dimensional structural information available for the many RNA components involved in cellular function.
We are focusing on several biologically impportant RNAs, and the aspects of the RNA folding problem that we are addressing can be divided into three general questions:
1) RNA structure: What are the structures that can be adopted by RNAs?
2) RNA-protein interactions: How do these structures contribute to specific recognition of RNA-binding proteins?
3) RNa folding: What is the mechanism of formation of these RNA structures?
(See Prof. Williamson's web page at the Scripps Research Institute for more details.)