Telomerase RNP structure, biogenesis, function and regulation.
The cellular reverse transcriptase telomerase adds simple-sequence repeats to chromosome ends by copying a template within its integral RNA subunit. This de novo telomeric repeat synthesis balances the loss of repeats that occurs with each round of genome replication. The Collins Lab studies telomerase both in vitro, to understand its unique structure and dynamic nucleic acid handling, and in vivo, to understand the cellular pathways for active RNP biogenesis and regulation of telomerase action at telomeres. In parallel they are using structural, biochemical, molecular and cellular assays to investigate the assembly and regulation of human telomerase.
Biology and biotechnology of retroelements, retroelement reverse transcriptases, and non-coding RNAs.
They have been applying their insights from studies of telomerase to investigations of retroelement reverse transcriptases and non-coding (nc) RNA biogenesis and function. In human cells they have discovered new ncRNA processing pathways and ncRNA functions in stress responses and innate immunity. They are illuminating principles for non-LTR retroelement mobility and unique reverse transcriptase properties.