The process of translating messenger RNA (mRNA) into proteins must be tightly regulated. Our lab is focused particularly on how the process is initiated.

Using cryo-electron microscopy in combination with biochemical and genetic approaches, we study the role of a family of enzymes called DEAD-box (DDX) RNA helicases in the initiation of mRNA translation in humans, and how this initiation is regulated in health and disease, including:

  • the role of RNA helicases in local translation initiation in neurons during the early-stage of human brain development
  • the structure and role of helicases in translation of mRNAs containing repeat expansions that lead to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia
  • how translation  is dysreguled in cancers