Studying Single mRNA Molecules from Cradle to Grave
We seek to understand the expression and movement of mRNA from transcription through degradation and the effect that defects in these processes have on health. We develop methods to label RNA in fixed and living cells using fluorescent probes and develop microscopy techniques and image analysis algorithms to visualize and quantify many mRNAs simultaneously. Using these technologies, we can observe single mRNAs localizing to cytoplasmic compartments such as the leading edge of a fibroblast, the bud tip of yeast or the axonal process of neurons and follow these single mRNAs from transcription, nuclear export through translation and degradation. Because these techniques yield quantitative fluorescence data, we are able to apply mathematical modeling to test mechanistic hypotheses.