How do RNA binding proteins find the right partner?

RNA binding proteins must be able to bind to the the correct target nucleotide sequence? But the molecular mechanisms by which a given protein sequence binds selectively to a certain RNA sequence remains poorly understood. An outstanding goal in this field is to be able to design proteins that will mind to specific RNA sequences to allow for gene maipulation, targetting and bioengineering applications.

This project will make use of the recently determined structure of a member of family of pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) proteins, which constitute one of the largest protein families in land plants. In collaboration with experimental groups at UWA we aim to use molecular modelling approaches to accurately predict the selectivity of a given protein sequence. Achieving this will address an ongoing question in biology, how do proteins find the correct DNA/RNA target,  and allow for the design of new protein to specifically manipulate RNA molecules.