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All organisms sense and respond to their environment. This response requires the precise regulation of genes. It is becoming increasingly evident that a major mode of gene-regulation is through non-coding RNAs. Bacteria being particularly adept at cellular economy use RNAs to control a number of processes such as growth, metabolism, adaptations and responses to changing environments etc. My lab is interested in understanding how bacteria use RNAs to sense and respond to environmental cues. Using a combination of approaches that include X-ray crystallography, RNA-protein biochemistry, biophysical, bioinformatics and in vivo methods, we study regulatory RNAs and RNA-protein complexes in bacteria. 

We are particularly interested in a class of non-coding RNAs called riboswitches, which directly bind cellular metabolites to control the expression of downstream genes. These sensory RNAs fold into complex three-dimensional architectures that are fine-tuned to recognize their cognate ligand. Our goal is to understand how RNAs create the structural diversity needed to bind diverse metabolites, what kind of metabolites are recognized by naturally occurring RNAs, and how this ultimately leads to genetic control. 

Regulatory RNAs often function not in isolation, but as intricately woven protein-RNA networks. This collaboration between regulatory RNAs and their protein partners is of fundamental importance to bacterial biology. My lab seeks to identify protein-RNA networks that control genes involved in bacterial pathogenesis with an emphasis on mycobacterial species.