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Lynne Elizabeth Maquat, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Office: (585) 273-5640

Fax: (585) 271-2683

Social Links


Research Labs

Faculty Appointments

  • Professor - Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics (SMD)
  • Director, Center for RNA Biology - Office of VP for Health Sciences (URMC)
  • J. Lowell Orbison Distinguished Service Alumni Professorship - Dean's Office, SMD (SMD)


Professional Background

Dr. Lynne Maquat is the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics who holds concomitant appointments in Pediatrics and in Oncology, Founding Director of the Center for RNA Biology, and Founding Chair of Graduate Women in Science at the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY. After obtaining her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and undertaking post-doctoral work at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, she joined Roswell Park Cancer Institute before moving to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dr. Maquat’s research focuses on the molecular basis of human diseases, with particular interest in mechanisms of mRNA decay. Dr. Maquat discovered nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) in human diseases in 1981 and, subsequently, the exon-junction complex (EJC) and how the EJC marks mRNAs for a quality-control “pioneer” round of protein synthesis. She also discovered Staufen-mediated mRNA decay, which mechanistically competes with NMD and, by so doing, new roles for short interspersed elements and long non-coding RNAs. Additionally, she has defined a new mechanism by which microRNAs are degraded, thereby regulating mRNAs so as to promote the cell cycle. One of her current interests focuses on the development of therapeutics for diseases that she has shown manifest hyperactivated NMD, including the most common single gene cause of intellectual disability and autism, Fragile X Syndrome. Maquat is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2006); an elected Member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2006), the National Academy of Sciences (2011), and the National Academy of Medicine (2017); and a Batsheva de Rothschild Fellow of the Israel Academy of Sciences & Humanities (2012-3). She received the William C. Rose Award from the American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (2014), a Canada Gairdner International Award (2015), the international RNA Society Lifetime Achievement Award in Service (2010) and in Science (2017), the FASEB Excellence in Science Award (2018), the Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science (2017), the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences from Rockefeller University (2018), the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Medal (2019), the Wolf Prize in Medicine from Isreal (2021), the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize from Harvard Medical School (2021), and the Gruber Genetics Prize from the Gruber Foundation and Yale University (2023). Maquat is well-known for her efforts to promote women in science.


Research in my lab focuses on RNA decay pathways. One pathway, called nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) or mRNA surveillance, surveys all newly synthesized mRNAs during what we call a "pioneer" round of translation. This round of translation involves mRNA that is associated with the cap-binding heterodimer CBP80 and CBP20. It is distinct from the type of translation that supports the bulk of cellular protein synthesis and involves a different cap-binding protein, eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4E. Generally, if translation terminates more than 50-55 nt upstream of an exon-exon junction that is marked by the NMD factors Upf3 or Upf3X, Upf2 and ultimately Upf1, then the mRNA will be subject to NMD. By the time CBP80 and CBP20 have been replaced by eIF4E, the Upf mark has been removed so that mRNA is largely immune to NMD.

Studies in progress will significantly advance our understanding of the mRNP proteins, translation factors and nucleases that trigger NMD. Our results will be useful when designing therapies that aim to abrogate NMD in order to abrogate the severity of nonsense-generated diseases. We are also interested in further characterizing the pioneer translation initiation complex and requirements for its remodeling to the steady-state initiation complex that involves eIF4E. Additionally, we are interested in the cycle of posttranslational modifications that typify at least some of the NMD factors, including phosphorylation of Upf1 that is mediated by the PI 3-kinase-related protein kinase Smg1.

Over the past 15 years, our discovery and subsequent work on the mechanism of Staufen (Stau)-mediated mRNA decay (SMD) has uncovered new roles for cytoplasmic long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and retrotransposon-derived short interspersed elements (SINEs) in post-transcriptional gene regulation. These SINEs include human Alu elements and mouse B1, B2, B4 and ID elements. We have shown that NMD and SMD are competitive pathways in ways that contribute to cellular homeostasis and also differentiation. We continue to define new cellular roles for SINEs as sites for nucleating intermolecular base-pairing between different mRNAs, between mRNAs and lncRNAs, and between different lncRNAs. We are additionally extending our studies of inverted-repeat Alu elements (IRAlus) and how competitive binding among the many nuclear and cytoplasmic double-stranded RNA binding proteins influence nuclear and cytoplasmic IRAlus-containing RNA metabolism.

Most recently, we have discovered a new microRNA decay pathway that is mediated by Tudor-SN. This pathway, which we call TumiD, promotes G1-to-S phase transition by degrading microRNAs that degrade mRNAs encoding proteins that promote this transition. We are currently working on how TumiD is regulated.

Please visit our lab website for more information on our exciting past and ongoing research pursuits as well as opportunities available to join our group.



BA | University of Connecticut

PhD | Univ Wisconsin-Madison


Gruber Genetics Prize
Sponsor: Gruber Foundation and Yale University, New Haven, CT

Warren Alpert Prize
Sponsor: Harvard Medical School

Wolf Prize in Medicine
Sponsor: Wolf Foundation, Israel

Warren Alpert Foundation Prize
Sponsor: Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

IUBMB Jubilee Award
Sponsor: International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences
Sponsor: Wiley Foundation

FASEB Excellence in Science Award
Sponsor: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Elected to the National Academy of Medicine
Sponsor: National Academy of Medicine (NAM)

2017 Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science
Sponsor: Vanderbilt

2017 International RNA Society Lifetime Achievement in Science Award
Sponsor: RNA Society

Canada Gairdner International Award
Sponsor: The Gairdner Foundation

William C. Rose Award
Sponsor: American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Athena Award
Sponsor: Women's Council of the Rochester Business Alliance

2013 - Present
MERIT Award from the NIH GM

Batsheva de Rothschild Fellow of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Presidential Diversity Award
Sponsor: University of Rochester

Elected to the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsor: National Academy of Sciences

RNA Society Lifetime Achievement Award in Service
Sponsor: RNA Society

Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Sponsor: American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Sponsor: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Davey Memorial Award for Outstanding Cancer Research
Sponsor: Wilmot Cancer Center, URMC

RPI/RNA Award for most significant paper co-authored by a junior scientist published in RNA
Sponsor: RNA Journal

Exemplary "Woman in Government"
Sponsor: New York State Commissioner of Health

1985 - 1989
American Heart Association Established Investigatorship
Sponsor: American Heart Association

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Patent Title: Methods and Compositions Related to Staufen 1 Binding Sites Formed By Duplexing ALU Elements
Patent #: 9,206,479
Issue Date: Dec 08, 2015
Country: United States
Invented By: Chenguang Gong, Lynne Elizabeth Maquat


Journal Articles

Rambout X, Cho H, Blanc R, Lyu Q, Miano JM, Chakkalakal JV, Nelson GM, Yalamanchili HK, Adelman K, Maquat LE. "PGC-1? senses the CBC of pre-mRNA to dictate the fate of promoter-proximally paused RNAPII." Molecular cell.. 2023 Jan 19; 83(2):186-202.e11.

Kurosaki T, Mitsutomi S, Hewko A, Akimitsu N, Maquat LE. "Integrative omics indicate FMRP sequesters mRNA from translation and deadenylation in human neuronal cells." Molecular cell.. 2022 Nov 1; Epub 2022 Nov 01.

Cho H, Abshire ET, Popp MW, Pröschel C, Schwartz JL, Yeo GW, Maquat LE. "AKT constitutes a signal-promoted alternative exon-junction complex that regulates nonsense-mediated mRNA decay." Molecular cell.. 2022 Jun 3; Epub 2022 Jun 03.