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University of Minnesota RNA Supergroup

On the biological and biomedical importance of RNA:

The biomolecule RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) plays diverse roles in biology, including these prime examples:

  • RNA has central roles in the transmission and decoding of genetic information.
  • RNA serves as a genome for viruses that have huge economic and health impacts. 
  • RNA catalyzes crucial biochemical reactions. 
  • RNA provides a structural framework for macromolecular machines. 
  • RNA molecules act in cis or in trans to control gene expression and biochemical processes.
  • Dysfunction and dysregulation of RNA underlie diseases including cancer, immune disorders, neurodegeneration, diabetes, and viral diseases.
RNA research at the University of Minnesota:

We are a community of RNA researchers who employ a wide range of techniques to study RNA function and disorders using approaches spanning from the atomic to organismal levels. RNA research is at highpoint of discovery with enormous impact on our understanding of biology and disease. These advances are being fueled by rapid advances in genomics and next generation sequencing, bioinformatics, genome editing, and imaging technologies.

The mission of the RNA Supergroup:
  • To advance RNA research to the benefit of the public and medicine
  • To connect RNA researchers and promote multidisciplinary collaborations
  • To enhance the training of students and postdoctoral fellows
  • To communicate the importance of RNA biology and its medical relevance to the community
  • To elevate the University of Minnesota’s reputation in RNA research
  • To facilitate recruitment of RNA researchers
  • To promote development of collaborative research grants
  • To facilitate expansion of shared research resources
This mission is promoted through the following activities:
  • RNA Bioscience Research in Progress seminars
  • RNA World journal club
  • UMN faculty research seminars
  • Invited seminars from leading RNA researchers

Participating RNA Supergroup faculty:

Frank Albert studies how regulatory genetic variation among individuals shapes transcriptomes and proteomes.




Kate Amadala focuses on developing and applying tools for readout of mammalian cell states and for control of cellular processes, achieved via combining top-down and bottom-up, RNA-based approaches to synthetic biology.




Paul Bohjanen studies the role of mRNA decay in regulating T lymphocyte gene expression and seeks to understand the biochemical mechanisms that regulate mRNA decay during T lymphocyte activation and disease states such as malignancy or virus infection.




Peter Bitterman investigates how the protein synthesis apparatus regulates gene expression and cell function. His laboratory focuses on the pathological activation of translation initiation complex eIF4F, which imparts primary fibroblasts and epithelial cells with autonomy for growth and survival and is required for cancer cells to maintain a malignant phenotype.




Kathleen Boris-Lowrie studies post-transcriptional control of retroviruses, from HIV-1 to Rous sarcoma virus. Her primary interest is translation control by structural elements in the 5' untranslated region of viral and select cellular mRNAs and transactivation by RNA binding proteins. 




Scott Dehm studies transcriptional regulation of RNA expression mediated by the androgen receptor.  His laboratory also studies mRNA splice variants of the androgen receptor, which are constitutively active transcription factors that drive resistance to therapies for prostate cancer. 




Aaron Engelhart pursues research towards a better understanding of nucleic acid folding and function in order to 1) elucidate unanticipated roles for nucleic acids in vivo and 2) develop novel nucleic acid-based catalysis, imaging, analytical, and diagnostic technologies




Aaron Goldstrohm studies post-transcriptional regulation of messenger RNAs by RNA-binding proteins, ribonucleases, and non-coding RNAs with biomedical relevance to cancer, obesity, and neurological disorders.




Guisheng Song researches the regulatory roles of microRNAs in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and liver cancer.




David Greenstein works on germline development in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. One main project in the lab investigates the mechanisms by which the TRIM-NHL protein LIN-41 regulates female meiosis and the oogenenic program in this organism.




Ann Rougvie studies temporal regulation of gene expression during development using Caenorhabditis elegans.




Irina St. Louis researches the molecular mechanisms that control human gene expression through regulated mRNA degradation, especially RNA-binding proteins and intracellular signaling pathways that affect the stability and translational efficiency of mRNAs encoding proto-oncogenes, cytokines, and cell cycle regulators.



Subbaya Subramanian studies microRNA regulatory networks in sarcoma and other cancers.





Jeongsik Yong researches post-transcriptional regulation of mRNA processing in cancer.




Join us:

Anyone with an interest in RNA can join the RNA Supergroup by emailing Aaron Goldstrohm

Upcoming RNA Supergroup Events:

RNA Research Resources:

Biomedical Genomics Center

Genome Editing Shared Resource

Minnesota Supercomputing Institute

UMN Imaging Centers

Center for Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics