RESEARCH Biological Chemistry
RNA interference (RNAi)
In the RNAi pathway, a double-stranded small (or short) interfering RNA (siRNA) mediates specific degradation of mRNAs with complementary sequence, resulting in no translation. RNAi has been developed as a facile method for silencing gene expression in a wide range of organisms including human. SKKU chemists focus on novel drug development technologies based on this RNAi mechanism. Chemically synthesized siRNA can trigger specific silencing of gene of interest, which can be rapidly translated towards a novel drug development by inhibiting expression of disease-causing genes.
Genome engineering nucleases
Programmable nucleases, the important genome engineering tools known as gene scissors, enable precise genome editing by introducing DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) at specific genomic loci. Currently, ZFN, TALEN, and CRISPR/Cas-based methods are used for genome engineering. Among them, CRISPR/Cas becomes a favorite because of its remarkable simplicity to design. CRISPR/Cas targets to specific DNA sequences by a short RNA guide molecule. SKKU chemists use protein engineering approaches to restructure Cas9 proteins for creating functionally more versatile Cas9 variants to overcome the current limitations of the technology.
Nucleic Acids as tools for control of gene expression
Nucleic acids play central roles in biological processes. In general, DNA stores genetic information, while RNA transmits genetic information. Moreover, DNA and RNA also involved in regulation of gene expression as control elements. SKKU chemists study nucleic acids and the proteins that interact with them. Through these studies, development of nucleic acid-based methods for manipulating gene expression is being explored.