Tinoco Research Group


Department of Chemistry

University of California, Berkeley


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Welcome to Tinoco Group


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The sequence of nucleotides in a nucleic acid determines its structure and function;

Professor Tinoco and his students want to deduce these fundamental properties from the sequence.


Important questions are:


• What folded, base paired structure of an RNA is specified by the sequence?


• How do RNA loops interact with each other, or with double stranded regions to form compact three-dimensional structures?


• What proteins, drugs, and ions do these structures bind?


• How do the sequence and structure affect the functions of ribosomal RNA's, the sites of processing of RNA, the translation of messenger RNA's, the replication of RNA viruses, and the catalytic abilities of RNA enzymes?


Our main emphasis is single-molecule measurements. A single RNA is held between beads and force is applied to unfold it in any chosen condition. The work done in unfolding the RNA provides the free energy of the reaction in the chosen environment. The kinetics of the reaction can also be obtained. We have recently started studies of protein translation by individual ribosomes. Translation occurs by a series of steps with translocations of approximately 0.1 s followed by pauses of order 1 s. We are learning the effects of messenger RNA sequence and structure, and of antibiotics, on translation, in particular on the mechanism of frameshifting.


Some general things about RNA: PDF  Audio 


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