The work of the group centres on the structural, dynamic and chemical properties of nucleic acids, and their recognition by and interactions with proteins.
Nucleic acids perform many roles in the cell. They act as the store of genetic information (DNA), the genetic messenger and template for the synthesis of proteins (mRNA), the processing of mature spliced RNA (snRNA) and precisely processed RNA (snoRNA), as an enzyme (ribozymes, including peptidyl transferase activity of the ribosome) and even in the control of gene expression (miRNA species, and riboswitches).
The group works on a number of different aspects of nucleic acid structure and function, including :
- The structure of helical junctions in DNA important in genetic recombination, and their interactions with enzymes.
- The folding of RNA, and the origins of catalysis in RNA molecules
The approaches cover biophysics (especially fluorescence, including single molecule spectroscopy), mechanistic chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology.