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Control of Gene Expression

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Our studies focus on the control of gene expression. We have studied RNA degradation and characterized enzymes that mediate decay. Other interests are stress and microbial growth. This work has many applications in Biotechnology and Health. 

 

Cecilia Arraiano

Cecília Arraiano
Investigador Coordenador
PhD 1989 in Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, USA

Phone (+351) 214469547 | Extension 1547
cecilia@itqb.unl.pt

 

Research Interests

The main research area of our laboratory has been to elucidate factors determinant for the control of gene expression. Biological processes can not be fully understood without a deep understanding of RNA metabolism. In 2006 and 2009 three Nobel prizes were dedicated to research in the field of RNA. In our laboratory has been focused in the study of RNA degradation mechanisms and the characterization of enzymes that mediate RNA decay in microorganisms. Namely we have studied RNase II family ribonucleases in the maturation, degradation, and quality control of mRNAs and functional non-coding small RNAs. Our studies have been applied to areas of Biotechnological interest and Health. We have extended our research to eukaryotes to further understand the role of RNases in global regulation. Another area of interest is stress, bacterial cell growth and survival.

The continuous breakdown and resynthesis of prokaryotic mRNA allows for the fast production of new kinds of proteins and best explains the rapid adaptation of micro-organisms to a changing environment. In this way mRNA levels can regulate protein synthesis and cellular growth. However, the inherent instability of prokaryotic mRNA has been one of the main obstacles to the profitable production of proteins of interest in industrial micro-organisms. Prokaryotic mRNAs differ in their susceptibility to degradation by endonucleases and exonucleases that may be due differences in their sequence and structure. The analysis of mRNA degradation has been difficult in all systems and, despite numerous studies, the process of mRNA degradation is still poorly understood. Recent results appear to show that the similarities between mRNA decay in the pro- and eukaryotic systems are greater than were generally believed. It is important to study RNA metabolism in different systems to allow universally conserved features to be recognized. Future work will involve the identification and study of the mechanism of action of more RNases, relating these RNases to the decay of RNAs. The team of C. Arraiano, in close collaboration with international partners, through the use of state-of-the-art technologies such as in vitro systems, functional genomics and RNomics, will continue to contribute to the knowledge of the regulating mechanism of gene expression. 

 

Group Members

  • José Andrade, Post-Doc
  • Sandra Viegas, Post-Doc
  • Susana Domingues, Post-Doc
  • Michal Malecki, Post-Doc
  • Inês Guinote, Post-Doc
  • Rute Matos, Post-Doc
  • Ricardo Moreira, Post-Doc
  • Inês Silva, PhD student
  • Filipa Reis, PhD student
  • Vânia Pobre, PhD student
  • Margarida Saramago, PhD student
  • Cátia Bárria, Research Student
  • Joana Pissarra, Research Student
  • Raquel Santos, Research Student
  • Teresa Pinto, Research Student
  • Andreia Aires, Research Technician
     

Selected Publications

  1. Frazão C+, McVey CE+, Amblar M+, Barbas A, Vonrhein C, Arraiano CM*, Carrondo MA.*, Unravelling the dynamics of RNA degradation by ribonuclease II and its RNA-bound complex. NATURE. 2006 Sep 7;443(7107):110-4.+Contributed equally; *Corresponding Authors
  2. Arraiano CM, Andrade JM, Domingues S, Guinote IB, Malecki M, Matos RG, Moreira RN, Pobre V, Reis FP, Saramago M, Silva IJ, Viegas SC. (2010) The critical role of RNA processing and degradation in the control of gene expression. FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2010 Sep;34(5):883-923. Epub 2010 Jun 24.
  3. Viegas SC, Silva IJ, Saramago M, Domingues S, Arraiano CM. (2011) Regulation of the small regulatory RNA MicA by ribonuclease III: a target-dependent pathway. Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 Apr;39(7):2918-30. Epub 2010 Dec 7.

 

Laboratory's Website

For further information visit the laboratory's website


Controlo da Expressão Génica (PT)

Muitos processos biológicos não podem ser totalmente compreendidos sem se conhecer detalhadamente o metabolismo do RNA e vários prémios Nobel foram recentemente atribuídos nesta área. A contínua degradação e síntese de RNA possibilita a rápida produção de novas proteínas e permite que os organismos se adaptem a um ambiente em constante modificação. A área principal do laboratório de C. Arraiano tem sido a elucidação dos mecanismos de maturação e degradação de todos tipos de RNA. Outra área de interesse tem sido o estudo de divisão celular bacteriana e a resistência a stress. Através da construção de mutantes deficientes em ribonucleases (RNases-enzimas que degradam o RNA) têm sido capazes de estudar RNAs específicos e modular a sua degradação. Para além disso a atenção deste grupo em estado focada nos enzimas intervêm nestes processos. Os estudos têm sido sobretudo baseados em ciência fundamental mas os resultados têm aplicações de muito interesse nas áreas da Saúde e Biotecnologia.

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