Venkat Gopalan, PhD
College of Arts & Sciences
Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics
My laboratory has a long-standing interest in RNase P, an endonuclease involved in tRNA 5’- biogenesis. Human RNase P (nuclear) employs a protein-aided ribozyme to process precursortRNAs and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). An RNA-free, protein-based variant performs the same function in mitochondria. Our biochemical/biophysical studies of RNase P have converged on the nexus between RNase P dysfunction and disease. A Pelotonia undergraduate fellow is now investigating how cancer-associated tRNA mutations impair structure and RNase Pmediated processing. We are also exploring RNase P as a drug target to disrupt maturation of lncRNAs (e.g., MALAT1 and NEAT), which are elevated in several cancers.