The central dogma of molecular biology states that the flow of genetic information moves from DNA to RNA to protein. However, this classical view has been challenged by recent findings on various types of regulatory non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). For example, the human ENCODE project revealed that >80% of the human genome is transcribed while only 1% codes for proteins. By using Arabidopsis as a model, our lab studies the molecular basis of a group of tiny ncRNAs called small RNAs (this group includes microRNAs and various types of small interfering RNAs). These small RNAs can modulate gene expression at either the transcriptional or post-transcriptional level and play essential roles in numerous biological processes such as genome stability, development, physiology and immunity.
I teach the biochemistry module in the BIOS program. In this module, Dr. Jinbiao Ma and I will introduce principles and basic procedures of prokaryotic protein expression and purification, a technique that is widely used in molecular and structural biology labs. You will be active participants in the whole process and experience a wide range of laboratory techniques. This module does not take a simple “cookbook” approach. Rather, it involves more critical thinking, helping to train you think like a scientist.