Chaperone RNA & DNA
It has long been known that nucleic acids carry the genetic information necessary for life. Nucleic acids also play vital structural, catalytic, and regulatory roles in the cell. Very recently, we discovered that nucleic acids perform an additional unsuspected but crucial task—preventing protein aggregation as molecular chaperones. Molecular chaperones are critical for maintaining the health of the proteome (termed proteostasis), which is of prime importance to human health. Defects in proteostasis are linked to many crippling diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and ALS.
The work in the Horowitz lab is focused on understanding how nucleic acids act as chaperones, and discovering which nucleic acids are important for these functions in the cell, and which can be developed for treating disease, with research spanning biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, and biophysics.