Nicole M. Martinez

Assistant Professor, Chemical and Systems Biology; Developmental Biology

B.S., University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Messenger RNAs (mRNAs), the instructions to make proteins, are composed from a 4-letter alphabet of RNA bases. These bases are extensively chemically modified to create new letters in the alphabet that change the meaning of the message. These changes can impact the fate and function of mRNAs in cells. The full collection of RNA modifications in cellular mRNAs represents a previously unappreciated layer of gene regulation on top of what is hard-wired in our genome. The Martinez lab studies how these chemical modifications are added very early when mRNAs are “born,” and how they impact how mRNAs are processed and interpreted in cells. RNA modifications have an important role in health and disease: many RNA modifying enzymes have been associated with a wide range of human diseases, particularly neurodevelopmental disorders, and cancer. Our goal is to connect molecular functions of RNA modifications to normal and disease traits using innovative high-throughput sequencing methods, RNA biochemistry, and model systems.