The set of instructions for building each organism resides in enormously long molecules of double-stranded DNA. The processes by which these programs of life are decoded and executed are only partially known. DNA instructs the synthesis of messenger RNA molecules, that use a molecular alphabet of four letters, A, C, G and U, to direct the assembly of a huge number of different proteins. Proteins have important structural, mechanical, enzymatic and signaling properties and are essential parts of every organism.
The long-held view that a gene (a region of DNA determining a particular characteristic of an organism) expresses one messenger RNA transcript, which encodes a single protein has, in recent years, been replaced by a much more complex picture. We now know that a gene can express several alternative transcripts, including antisense transcripts from the opposite DNA strand. Many antisense transcripts have no protein-coding potential and a major goal of my laboratory is to discover the function of a subset of these transcripts.
The circadian clock, an internal timekeeper that orchestrates the timing of cellular processes to occur at a favourable time of day, and asexual development in the model organism Neurospora crassa are also areas of interest under study.