Structure, Function & Evolution of Ribonucleoprotein Assemblies

The Mura lab employs experimental and computational approaches to understand the structure, function/dynamics, and evolution of RNA- and DNA-based protein assemblies. In particular, we seek a deeper understanding of Sm-based ribonucleoprotein (RNP) assemblies; what these protein/RNA complexes look like at atomic resolution (structure, such as shown below), their assembly pathways and dynamical behavior (function), and the interrelationships between Sm and Sm-like systems (evolution).

Discovered as the antigens in the autoimmune disease lupus, Sm proteins are now known to form a broad, evolutionarily-conserved family that play key roles in most aspects of RNA metabolism (including mRNA splicing), as well as in bacterial cell-cell communication networks (“quorum sensing”). Sm-based complexes such as the spliceosome exceed the ribosome in terms of both size and architectural complexity, thereby providing an immensely rich area for ongoing studies. Current work focuses on Sm systems drawn from both a well-established context (splicing) and a more recently emerging area (quorum sensing) that is of major biomedical significance because of its involvement in biofilm-mediated bacterial pathogenesis. The research program being developed to pursue this work is necessarily highly interdisciplinary, relying particularly heavily on methods from structural biology (e.g., crystallography) and computational chemistry (e.g., molecular dynamics simulations), in addition to traditional wet-lab biochemistry.

Recent Publications

Crystal Structure and RNA-binding Properties of an Hfq Homolog from the Deep-branching Aquificae: Conservation of the Lateral RNA-binding Mode
Stanek KA, Patterson-West J, Randolph PS & C Mura. Acta Crystallographica Section D: Structural Biology (2017), in press.

Toward a Designable Extracellular Matrix: Molecular Dynamics Simulations of an Engineered Laminin-mimetic, Elastin-like Fusion Protein
Tang JD, McAnany CE, Mura C & K Lampe. Biomacromolecules (2016), 17(10), pp 3222–3233.

Claws, Disorder, and Conformational Dynamics of the C-terminal Region of Human Desmoplakin
McAnany CE, & C Mura. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2016), 120 (33), pp 8654–8667.

An Introduction to Programming for Bioscientists: A Python-based Primer
Ekmekci B†, McAnany CE†, & C Mura. PLOS Computational Biology (2016), 12(6): e1004867, pp 1–43. [†equal authors]

Known Structure, Unknown Function: An Inquiry-based Undergraduate Biochemistry Laboratory Course
Gray C, Price CW, Lee CT, Dewald AH, Cline MA, McAnany CE, Columbus L & C Mura. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Education (2015), 43(4), pp 245–262.

An Introduction to Biomolecular Simulations and Docking
Mura C & CE McAnany. Molecular Simulation (2014), 40(10-11), pp 732–764.

See more: PubMed | arXiv | labSite (not all publications are PubMed-indexed)

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Room 116, Physical Life Sciences Building

BS, Georgia Tech (1996)

PhD, UCLA (2002)

Postdoctoral Fellow, UCLA (2002)

Sloan/DOE Postdoctoral Fellow in Computational Biology, UCSD (2003-2007)

Research Interests: 
evolution of ribonucleoprotein assemblies; structural biology; molecular biophysics