Dissection of Prp24 Functional Domains using Molecular Beacons

Pre-mRNA splicing is a critical step in the process by which genes direct the production of proteins. While there are many aspects of this process we do not yet understand, it is clear that splicing must be incredibly accurate. Errors can result in a number of devastating diseases, including myotonic dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy and retinitis pigmentosa, which results in blindness. Splicing errors have also been linked to the growth of malignant tumours and the development of cystic fibrosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Amy Hayduk’s research at the Rader Lab at the University of Northern British Columbia is directed at understanding the mechanisms that make up the process. Specifically, she is using molecular beacons to study the roles of the four RNA recognition motifs of the protein Prp24. This work builds upon original research conducted by Hayduk involving a novel application of molecular beacon technology to RNA detection. By analyzing the degree of impairment in the activity of Prp24 resulting from specific gene mutations, her work will help explain the molecular interactions through which pre-mRNA splicing is accomplished. By contributing to a more precise understanding of the intricate sequence of molecular interactions that constitutes pre-mRNA splicing, this research will assist with the development of strategies for treating diseases that arise from defects in splicing.