The last thirty years have witnessed exciting discoveries of diverse functions carried out by non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), ranging from enzymatic catalysis to gene regulation. We are a young group of biophysicists and biochemists seeking to understand the structural and dynamic properties of nucleic acids and nucleic acid-protein complexes that underlie the molecular basis for many vital RNA and protein functions. We integrate state-of-the-art solution-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM), X-ray crystallography, computational and biochemical approaches to illuminate functional and regulatory mechanisms of diverse dynamic processes, including ribozyme catalysis, riboswitch-based gene regulation, microRNA biogenesis, co-transcriptional RNA folding, RNA-dependent viral genome stability, and cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) mediated innate immune response. The principles deduced from these studies will provide atomic basis for design of nucleic acid-based regulatory devices and development of small molecules to target specific RNA and protein signals in cancer and other human diseases.


Qi Zhang
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
120 Mason Farm Road, Campus Box 7260
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7260

Office: Genetic Medicine 3017
Phone: 919-966-5770
Email: zhangqi@unc.edu