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Biomolecular Interaction Centre
+64 3 369 3999 ext. 6742
Julius von Haast 520
My personal research goal is the complete functional classification of all functional RNAs. It is well established that RNAs such as tRNA and rRNA play a vital role in translation. The further discovery of more RNAs that build the translational machinery, such as snoRNAs, RNaseP and MRP along with spliceosomal RNAs, was not too great a shock. What has come as a surprise to RNA researchers in recent years is the importance of RNA in other areas such as regulation. Newly discovered RNAs and RNA-related processes involving regulation include: RNA interference (RNAi), microRNAs, siRNAs, riboswitches, thermosensors, bacterial antisense sRNAs, leader elements, IRES's and frame-shift elements. Further discoveries have shown that RNA is important for defending genomes from invasive elements such as transposons and bacteriophages, for de-activating entire chromosomes, and are essential for DNA replication. Furthermore, the discovery of RNA enzymes, or ribozymes, has lead to the suggestion that early life's genetic and numerous metabolic processes were RNA-based. Yet many groups are discovering thousands of RNAs with no known function. Clearly we are just beginning to appreciate the number of central roles that RNA mediated processes play in biology. What further unrealised roles does this "dark matter" of the cell play?