Our long-range goal is to elucidate the underlying biological principles and functional roles of posttranscriptional RNA modifications. Currently, we are particularly interested in 2'-O-methylation and pseudouridylation in three different types of RNA, including the spliceosomal snRNA involved in pre-mRNA splicing, the telomerase RNA required for telomere length maintenance, and the messenger RNA that encodes a chemical "blueprint" for the production of a protein.
Our recent research has demonstrated that all these three types of RNA can be modified in vivo, either naturally or artificially through the RNA-guided RNA modification mechanisms. Importantly, our experimental data indicate that the posttranscriptional nucleotide modifications contribute significantly to RNA functions. We are currently carrying out three projects, aiming to address some of the fundamental questions regarding RNA modifications.