Areas of Interest
Clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and their associated (Cas) genes serve as a powerful prokaryotic adaptive immune system that defends against foreign DNA (e.g. viruses or plasmids) and has recently gained popularity for its applications in eukaryotic genome engineering. After entry into host cells, small segments of foreign DNA can be incorporated as new “spacers” into the host’s CRISPR array, which consists of alternating direct repeats and variable spacers. CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) are transcribed from the CRISPR locus and engage Cas effector protein(s) to specifically target the invading nucleic acids for destruction. I am studying the molecular mechanisms underlying this incredible defense pathway using bacterial genetic, genomic, and molecular biological approaches.