People

Alexander Serganov

Principal Investigator

Alexander Serganov joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology of NYU School of Medicine in May 2011. He graduated from the Moscow State University with a B.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology. During his Ph.D. studies he split his time between the Maria Garber laboratory at the Institute of Protein Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Pushchino, Russia), the Bernard Ehresmann laboratory at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (Strasbourg, France), and the Claude Portier laboratory at the Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology (Paris, France). His Ph.D. work focused on the regulation of gene expression during ribosome biogenesis. He continued his studies as a postdoc in the Ehresmann laboratory. He then joined Dinshaw J. Patel’s laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York, USA) to study molecular mechanisms of RNA-mediated catalysis and gene expression control. He championed several seminal projects including the first three-dimensional structures of the non-coding regulatory RNA elements termed riboswitches and the first structure of a ribozyme catalyzing a synthetic reaction.

Nikita Vasilyev

Postdoctoral Fellow

Nikita Vasilyev received a M.Sc. degree in Biology from the Moscow State University. He performed his Ph.D. work on the structure and function of viral RNA polymerase in the Alexander Chetverin laboratory at the Institute of Protein Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Pushchino, Russia). His current research focuses on RNA-protein complexes associated with RNA degradation and neurological diseases. He also pursues studies of bacterial RNA polymerase.

Selected recent publications:

  • Luciano, D.J., Vasilyev, N., Richards, J., Serganov, A., Belasco, J.G. A novel RNA phosphorylation state enables 5′ end-dependent degradation in Escherichia coli. Mol. Cell.2017; 67: 44-54.
  • Vasilyev, N. & Serganov, A. Crystal structures of Escherichia coli RppH-RNA complexes unveil the basis for specific initiation of 5′-end-dependent mRNA decay. J. Biol. Chem. 2015, 290: 9487-9499.
  • Vasilyev, N., Polonskaia, A., Darnell,, J., Darnell, R., Patel,, D.J. & Serganov, A. Crystal structure reveals specific recognition of a G-quadruplex RNA by a β-turn in the RGG motif of FMRP. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2015, 112: E5391-400.

Ang Gao

Postdoctoral Fellow

Ang Gao received a M.Sc. in Microbiology from Shandong University. She carried out her Ph.D. research on the structure and catalysis of enzymes associated with bacterial quorum sensing in the laboratory of Dongcai Liang at the Institute of Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing, China). She currently conducts studies on non-coding RNAs as well as degradation and post-transcriptional modification of mRNA in bacteria and eukaryotes.

Selected recent publications:

  • Wang, Y., Shi, M., Feng, H., Zhu, Y., Liu, S., Gao, A., Gao, P. Structural insights into non-canonical ubiquitination catalyzed by SidE. Cell. 2018; 173: 1231-1243.
  • Gao, A., Vasilyev, N., Luciano, D.J., Levenson-Palmer, R., Richards, J., Marsiglia, W.M., Traaseth, N.J., Belasco, J.G., Serganov, A. Structural and kinetic insights into stimulation of RppH-dependent RNA degradation by the metabolic enzyme DapF. Nucleic Acids Res. 2018; 46: 6841-6856.
  • Gao, A. & Serganov, A. Structural insights into recognition of c-di-AMP by the ydaO riboswitch. Nat. Chem. Biol. 2014; 10: 787-792.

Alla Peselis

Graduate Student

Alla Peselis received a M.Sc. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Rhode Island. She joined the Serganov laboratory as a technician to work on the structure and function of riboswitches. Shortly thereafter she decided to pursue a Ph.D. on the study of the long non-coding RNA Rmrp involved in the activation of the inflammatory response in lymphocytes.

Selected recent publications:

  • Peselis, A. & Serganov, A. ykkC riboswitches employ an add-on helix to adjust specificity for polyanionic ligands Nat. Chem. Biol., 2018; 14: 887-894.
  • Ren, A., Xue, Y., Peselis, A., Serganov, A., Al-Hashimi, H.M. and Patel, D. J., Long-range ‘linchpin’ G-C pair formation in the glnA riboswitch highlights a molecular signature of a ligand-dependent tertiary RNA switch. Cell Rep. 2015; 13: 1800-13.
  • Peselis, A. & Serganov, A. Structure and function of pseudoknots involved in gene expression control. WIREs RNA 2014; 5: 803-22.
  • Peselis, A. & Serganov, A. Structural insights into ligand binding and gene expression control by an adenosylcobalamin riboswitch. Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol., 2012; 19: 1182-1184.

Jacob Weaver

Graduate Student

Jacob Weaver graduated from the University of Rochester and worked as a research technician in the laboratory of Michelle Dziejman at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (Rochester, NY). Jacob was involved in studies of transcriptional regulation of Vibrio cholerae virulence genes. Currently, he conducts cryo-EM studies of macromolecular assemblies between bacterial RNA polymerase and associated factors.

Selected recent publications:

  • Miller, K.A., Sofia, M.K., Weaver, J.W., Seward, C.H. & Dziejman, M. Regulation by ToxR-like proteins converges on vttRB expression to control type 3 secretion system-dependent Caco2-BBE cytotoxicity in Vibrio cholerae. J. Bacteriol., 2016; 198: 1675-82.
  • Chaand, M., Miller, K.A., Sofia, M.K., Schlesener, C., Weaver, J.W., Sood, V. & Dziejman, M. Type 3 secretion system island encoded proteins required for colonization by non-O1/non-O139 serogroup V. cholerae. Infect. Immun. 2015; 83: 2862-9.

Ashok Noothanaganti

Postdoctoral Fellow

Ashok Noothanaganti received a M.Sc. in Organic Chemistry from Kakatiya University (Warangal, India). He conducted Ph.D. research on chemical synthesis and characterization of nucleic acid conjugates in the laboratory of Dr. S. G. Srivatsan at the IISER-Pune. He is currently focused on the development of novel types of antibiotics.

Selected recent publications:

Nuthanakanti, A., Boerneke, M. A., Hermann, T., Srivatsan, S. G. Structure of the ribosomal RNA decoding site containing a selenium-modified responsive fluorescent ribonucleoside probe. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017; 56: 2640–2644.

Nuthanakanti, A., Srivatsan, S. G. Surface-tuned and metal-ion-responsive supramolecular gels based on thymidine nucleolipids ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces. 2017; 9: 22864–22874.

Nuthanakanti, A., Srivatsan, S. G. Hierarchical self-assembly of switchable nucleolipid supramolecular gels based on environmentally-sensitive fluorescent nucleoside analogs. Nanoscale. 2016; 8: 3607–3619.

Past members

Shivali Patel, graduate student at Yale University