Tatjana Trcek on Germ Granule mRNA Self-Assembly

Professor Tatjana Trcek of Johns Hopkins gave Dewpoint’s first “virtual” Kitchen Table Talk in early April. Tatjana studies the spacial orientation of mRNA in cells, especially the regulation of mRNA in the Drosophila germ line. This leads her to the study of RNA granules, where mRNA often congregate. She uses a wide range of techniques in her work, including super-resolution spectroscopic methods that produce beautiful, stunning images.

Prior to joining Hopkins, Tatjana received her Ph.D. at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine working with Robert Singer, and then performed post-doctoral research with Ruth Lehmann at the NYU Skirball Institute. Tatjana talk covered her project in Ruth’s lab on the sequence-independent self-assembly of germ granule mRNA into homotypic clusters. It was animated and highly engaging—hope you enjoy it!

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Mark (00:02):
Yeah, so I think a lot of the folks on the call from the Dewpoint side already know that you did a postdoc with Ruth up in New York, and I guess today you’ll mostly be talking about that work that you led in Ruth’s lab on the self-assembly of the germ granule mRNAs.

Tatjana Trcek (00:21):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mark (00:23):
So take it away.

Tatjana Trcek (00:24):
Okay, so thank you. Let me just share the screen… okay.

Tatjana Trcek (00:33):
Okay, this is closed, okay. Thank you so much for inviting me, and to really share the work that was done in Ruth Lehmann’s lab and I’ll come to the slide in a second where I’m going to acknowledge that. Today I’ll show you how mRNAs and Drosophila germ granules upon their enrichment in these germ granules, self assemble and they form homotypic clusters. And how this self assembly is independent of any particular RNA sequence. As I said and as you mentioned, the work that I’m going to show you today was really done in Ruth Lehmann’s lab when I was a postdoc in her lab at NYU and I would like to acknowledge her and thank her, as well as my collaborators in the lab, as well as outside and of course also my funding.

Tatjana Trcek (01:21):
But, just to introduce, my lab is interested in how mRNAs in cells are spatially organized and what are the biological consequences of such organization. And as you might know, the organization or localization of mRNAs in cells is very important because it helps: one, establish polarized cells as example in this mono symbionic fiberglass when beta-actin mRNA is concentrated and localized the leading edge of this motile cell where it becomes locally translated and feeds actin monomers into a growing cytoskeleton to help this motile cell propel forward and to keep the forward motion of this migrating cell….

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