Ilea Chau
Ilea Chau
Year: 2015
Faculty Advisor: Maureen Hanson

Determining the role of a helical repeat protein family in RNA editing in Arabidopsis thaliana

Project Summary

In order to correct errors that spontaneously occur in their organelle DNA, plants have the ability to engage in a process called RNA editing, in which mRNA transcripts are modified post-transcriptionally. RNA editing activity is targeted by the recognition of specific cis-elements by a complex of proteins called the editosome. The protein complex then modifies a Cytosine to a Uridine, often times reinstituting the ancestral amino acid and restoring proper gene function. A better understanding of the proteins involved in the editosome may allow for the utilization of this RNA editing in future genetic engineering technology. Previous studies have identified several contributory proteins which share the unique characteristic of being comprised of repeated helical motifs. One particular family of helical repeat proteins has been found to localize to the mitochondria and chloroplasts, where RNA editing occurs. In order to investigate the role of this protein family in RNA editing, 44 lines of T-DNA mutants were analyzed. RNA transcripts extracted from mutant individuals underwent SNP analysis to determine RNA editing extent. This data will allow for the identification of specific proteins which may play a role in RNA editing.

My Experience

My time as a BTI intern has been both stimulating and rewarding. As a rising senior preparing for graduate school applications, I benefitted greatly from the many opportunities afforded to me by this internship. By working closely with my mentor, I was able to learn more about conducting plant research in an academic setting while learning about new and challenging concepts in the plant biology field. The people in my lab were constantly supportive throughout the summer and encouraged me to think critically and gain a greater understanding of the questions at hand. Outside of the lab, BTI presented me with the tools necessary to further my involvement in the field of plant science by providing me with information about graduate programs and ongoing research in the field.