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overview My laboratory is interested in the enzymology and chemistry of nucleic acid enzymes. Helicases are enzymes that manipulate DNA and RNA in all aspects of nucleic acid metabolism. We are studying a DNA helicase from Bacteriophage T4 called Dda (for DNA-Dependent-ATPase) in order to develop a detailed chemical and kinetic mechanism for DNA unwinding by this model DNA helicase. A second enzyme we study is called Pif1. This helicase is involved in many aspects of DNA metabolism ranging from telomere maintenance to transcription. Pif1 binds tightly to unusual DNA structures called quadruplexes, for which the biological functions are being intensively explored. A second project involves the Hepatitis C viral helicase NS3 (Non-Structural Protein 3). NS3 is an RNA helicase that is capable of unwinding DNA. We are studying the mechanism of NS3 as well as its interactions with other HCV and cellular proteins. Our goal is to recapitulate RNA replication in vitro using biological relevant substrates and proteins and a biologically relevant sub-genomic replicon of HCV. Our research projects are currently expanding in development of new tools for studying and protein-protein interactions and post-translational modifications at specific sites in the genome using a Crispr-based approach coupled with protein mass spectrometry. In a new project, we have recently discovered a possible signaling mechanism by which cells respond to DNA damage. During oxidative stress, guanine residues are oxidized, leading to excision of the damaged DNA. When the excised DNA consists of specific sequences containing runs of guanine, the resulting DNA fragment can fold into a stable structure called quadruplex DNA. Telomeric DNA is particularly susceptible to oxidative stress and contains sequences that readily fold into quadruplex structures. The excised DNA quadruplexes can bind to proteins such as DHX36 (a helicase), leading to formation of sub-organelles called stress granules. The functional role of stress granules is to modulate translation. Hence, this mechanism provides a stepwise chemical mechanism for the cell to respond to DNA damage leading to changes in translation.

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  • Translational
  • Bioinformatics