SURF

Prashant Bhat

Investigating the Mechanism of RNA-Mediated Target Interference in a Bacterial CRISPR System

CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) are instrumental in mediating a prokaryotic immune response by targeting and subsequently directing the degradation of invasive genetic elements. Research is currently underway to harness the CRISPR system for biomedical applications including the detection and diagnosis of viruses in human clinical samples. My project investigates the components of the large multi-subunit complex found in E. colitermed Cascadewhich is responsible for targeting and destroying invading nucleic acid via an unknown mechanism. Prior work from our lab has shown that a key protein in the Cascade complex called Cas7 may be essential in unwinding the invading dsDNA duplex, thereby making it accessible for degradation. Using a combination of biochemical tools and x-ray crystallography, I plan to investigate the structural interactions of Cas7 with a DNA: RNA hybrid to examine the method of target recognition by the Cascade complex, with the ultimate goal of an atomic resolution structure of this critical Cascade subunit bound to target RNA.

Message to Sponsor

As I look forward to the bright days of graduate school, the SURF/Rose Hills program has given me an early opportunity to experience what full time research entails without the interruption of classes. The generous stipend the sponsors have kindly provided will help defray the cost of living and food expenses. In turn, by not having to worry about finances, I can focus on making progress on my research project. In addition, the SURF program allows many bright individuals to interact with one anotherI look forward to discussing intellectually stimulating topics with my fellow SURF peers this summer!
  • Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
  • Mentor: Jennifer Doudna