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Faculty
Alan M. Lambowitz
Mr. & Mrs. A. Frank Smith, Jr. and Nancy Lee & Perry R. Bass Regents Chairs In Molecular Biology
Director, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology

Email: lambowitz@austin.utexas.edu
Website
Main Office: MBB 1.220C
Phone: (512)-232-3418

Alternate Office: MBB 2.234BA
Alt. Phone: (512) 471-4778

Mailing Address
The University of Texas at Austin
Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology
2500 Speedway, Stop A4800
Austin ,TX 78712-1639

Alan M. Lambowitz


Research Summary

Our laboratory studies gene expression, RNA splicing, mobile self-splicing introns, and retroviral-like genetic elements in eukaryotes and prokaryotes. We are interested in mechanisms by which mobile introns proliferate within genomes by inserting into new DNA sites, how proteins promote RNA folding and RNA catalysis, the mechanism and function of RNA helicases and their relationship to cancer, the evolution of introns and splicing mechanisms, and the evolution and origin of retroviruses and reverse transcription. Our research employs a combination of genetic, biochemical, and structural approaches. In practical applications of our work, we have used mobile group II introns to develop a new type of gene targeting vector, dubbed "targetron", which can be programmed to insert efficiently into desired DNA sites. Targetrons are now sold commercially and are widely used for the genetic engineering and systems biology of diverse bacteria. Recently, we developed a thermotargetron that enables facile gene targeting in bacterial thermophiles with the aim of enhancing production of chemicals and biofuels in industrially important processes. We are also developing methods for using targetrons in higher organisms, with potential applications in gene therapy. Our work on mobile group II introns led to the discovery of a new family of intron-encoded reverse transcriptase. We are studying these enzymes biochemically and structurally and have developed them as tools for applications in next-generation RNA sequencing, transcriptome profiling, analysis of RNA structure and RNA-protein interactions, and diagnostics. We are using the novel properties and activities of thermostable group II intron reverse transcriptases for the discovery and profiling of miRNAs and other non-coding RNAs involved in important biological processes and human diseases.

 

 

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