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Lynne Elizabeth Maquat, Ph.D.

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Office: (585) 273-5640

Fax: (585) 271-2683

Research Labs

Faculty Appointments


Professional Background

Lynne Elizabeth Maquat is the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics in the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Director of the Center for RNA Biology, and Chair of Graduate Women in Science at the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA. 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. In 1981, Professor Maquat discovered nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) in mammalian cells and, subsequently while elucidating the mechanism of NMD, 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 (SMD), which mechanistically competes with NMD and, by so doing, new roles for short interspersed elements and long non-coding RNAs. Additional current interests include microRNA decay, mechanisms by which cells utilize NMD and SMD to adapt to developmental and environmental changes, how transposable elements have been co-opted by cells to regulate gene expression, functional links between transcription factors and RNA-binding proteins, and developing therapeutics by targeting RNA. Current interests have expanded to defining molecular defects in neurologic disorders, including Fragile X Syndrome and the Spinal Cerebellar Ataxias. Professor Maquat is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2006), and an elected Member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2006), the National Academy of Sciences (2011), and the National Academy of Medicine (2017). She was a Batsheva de Rothschild Fellow of the Israel Academy of Sciences & Humanities (2012-2013) and has 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 Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science (2017), the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Excellence in Science Award (2018), the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences (2018), and the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Medal (2019).


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


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

Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences
Sponsor: Wiley Foundation

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 E Maquat


Journal Articles

Rambout X, Maquat LE. "NCBP3: A Multifaceted Adaptive Regulator of Gene Expression." Trends in biochemical sciences.. 2020 Oct 5; Epub 2020 Oct 05.

Rambout X, Maquat LE. "The nuclear cap-binding complex as choreographer of gene transcription and pre-mRNA processing." Genes & development.. 2020 Sep 1; 34(17-18):1113-1127.

Zheng D, Cho H, Wang W, Rambout X, Tian B, Maquat LE. "3'READS+RIP defines differential Staufen1 binding to alternative 3'UTR isoforms and reveals structures and sequence motifs influencing binding and polysome association." RNA.. 2020 Aug 12; Epub 2020 Aug 12.