Messenger RNAs and noncoding transcripts undergo tightly regulated processing steps that are essential for their expression. The overarching goal of the Conrad Lab is to elucidate the mechanisms involved in posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression in the human cell nucleus. We are interested in how nuclear RNA splicing, polyadenylation, export, modification and decay are coordinated to ensure proper gene expression. In our studies, we use molecular and cell biology techniques, but we also focus heavily on RNA processing in nuclear viruses.
When a virus invades a host cell, it usurps critical components of the cellular machinery to ensure its propagation and potentially cause disease. Therefore, an understanding of the interactions between a virus and its host cell is necessary to develop strategies to combat viral disease. Yet this is not the only reason to study virology. The history of molecular biology demonstrates that we gain considerable insight into cellular gene function by examining virus-host interactions. Thus, by studying viral factors we learn about essential mechanisms of human pathogens and we gain insights into the basic biology of human cells.