RNA Featured Researcher – Meredith Purchal, Chemical Biology

Meredith Purchal

Ph.D. Candidate
Program in Chemical Biology, College of LSA
Faculty: Kristin Koutmou and Markos Koutmos

Koutmos lab
Koutmou lab

What are your research interests?
I am primarily interested structurally characterizing the interactions between RNA and RNA modifying enzymes using x-ray crystallography. Post transcriptional modification of RNA is widespread and ubiquitous, adding a layer of chemical diversity previously inaccessible to RNA. Modification of protein coding, messenger RNA (mRNA) is especially interesting to me, as it represents a novel and largely unexplored system of gene regulation. The bulk of my work thus far has been with the pseudouridine synthase (PUS) family of proteins – responsible for isomerizing uridine to pseudouridine in mRNA, tRNA, snRNA, rRNA, etc.

How does RNA relate to your research interests, and why?
RNA is central to my research interests. Modifications in RNA, especially mRNA, haven’t been completely figured out. We don’t even have a complete idea of the entire distribution/landscape of modifications – meaning that we still have so much more to discover. I find that very exciting.

Who/what brought you to science?
My AP biology teacher my senior year of high school. He was so enthusiastic and engaging as a teacher because he was so clearly excited about the science. And he made me excited about it.

What brought you to the University of Michigan?
The weather, obviously. And the wonderful people.

What are the main challenges/concerns to achieve your professional goals?
My main challenge is staying focused. There are so many intriguing projects and techniques that my lab mates are working on, and I am always interested in learning something new.

What’s your favorite hobby?
Summer – hiking. Winter – crochet.

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