Cancer Biology & Genetics Program
The Christine Mayr Lab
Control of protein activity through RNA-induced protein conformation changes
My laboratory studies mRNA functions that go beyond the transmission of the genetic code. We discovered that 3’ untranslated regions regulate protein complex assembly and control protein functions. Mechanistically, we found that 3′UTRs control translation in mRNA-rich, constitutively expressed cytoplasmic condensate networks, including TIS granules and the FXR1 network. These compartments enable widespread binding of mRNAs to transcription factors and enzymes through a new and widespread RNA-binding domain located in their intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs). We found that RNA binding changes the conformational states of the IDRs to control protein complex assembly and protein activity.
Going forward, we will study the molecular mechanism and functional scope of RNA-induced activation of proteins and will develop tools to monitor RNA-induced protein conformation changes and to control protein activity through exogenous RNA. To do so, we take a multidisciplinary approach and use molecular biology and biophysics, biochemistry and chemical biology, high-resolution imaging, and computational methods to study how RNA regulates protein activity. We envision that protein activity regulation through RNA-induced conformational changes is similar in scale and scope to post-translational modifications.
If you are interested in this topic, please contact me as we have open positions for postdocs and graduate students from diverse backgrounds.
Christine Mayr, MD, PhD
- Molecular and cell biologist Christine Mayr studies how 3′UTRs regulate protein functions and how mRNAs contribute to cytoplasmic organization.
- MD, Free University Berlin
- PhD, Humboldt University Berlin
- Luise and Allston Boyer Young Investigator Award for Basic Research (2019)
- NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (2016)
- Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research (2015)
- Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award, Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation (2012)
- Selected as ‘Cell Scientist to watch’ by Journal of Cell Science (2015)
- Science Signaling Breakthrough of the year (2013)
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Doctors and faculty members often work with pharmaceutical, device, biotechnology, and life sciences companies, and other organizations outside of MSK, to find safe and effective cancer treatments, to improve patient care, and to educate the health care community.
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Christine Mayr discloses the following relationships and financial interests:
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