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The objective of the RNA Bioscience Initiative is to understand the role of RNA in biology, engage in collaborative research, create a fluid pipeline from basic science to clinical diagnostics and therapeutics, and train the next generation of RNA researchers.

Investigators on the CU Anschutz campus have already made important discoveries in the field, covering RNA structure-function, RNA biogenesis, mechanisms of regulation by non-coding RNAs, non-coding RNAs in disease, diagnostics, and therapeutics, cutting-edge RNA technologies and advanced genome-wide computational methods.

The RNA Bioscience Initiative continues to make substantial and sustained contributions to four major research areas:


A brief look at the latest discoveries from RBI faculty and trainees.


Neel Highlight

RNA-binding proteins regulate aldosterone homeostasis in human steroidogenic cells

June 1, 2021

Rui Fu, Kimberly Wellman, Amber Baldwin, Juilee Rege, Kathryn Walters, Antje Hirsekorn, Kent Riemondy, William E Rainey and Neelanjan Mukherjee

Angiotensin II (AngII) stimulates adrenocortical cells to produce aldosterone, a master regulator of blood pressure. Despite extensive characterization of the transcriptional and enzymatic control of adrenocortical steroidogenesis, there are still major gaps in the precise regulation of AII-induced gene expression kinetics. Complete Abstract


Fu Highlight

Cell-level metadata are indispensable for documenting single-cell sequencing datasets

May 24, 2021

Sidhant Puntambekar, Jay R Hesselberth, Kent A Riemondy, Rui Fu 

Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) has empowered discoveries of cell heterogeneity and state transitions at unprecedented resolution and throughput. New technological developments have broadened the scope of measurable molecules, extending beyond RNA to measure cell surface proteins. Complete Abstract


Aaron Highlight

Establishing RNA-RNA Interactions Remodels lncRNA Structure and Promotes PRC2 Activity  

April 14, 2021

Maggie M. Balas, Erik W. Hartwick, Chloe Barrington, Justin T. Roberts, Stephen K. Wu, Ryan Bettcher, April M. Griffin, Jeffrey S. Kieft, Aaron M. Johnson

Human Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) catalysis of histone H3 lysine 27 methylation at certain loci depends on long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). Yet, in apparent contradiction, RNA is a potent catalytic inhibitor of PRC2. Here, we show that intermolecular RNA-RNA interactions between the lncRNA HOTAIR and its targets can relieve RNA inhibition of PRC2. Complete Abstract


Tamburini. Hesselberth

Molecular Tracking Devices Quantify Antigen Distribution and Archiving in the Murine Lymph Node

April 12, 2021

Shannon M Walsh, Ryan M Sheridan, Erin D Lucas, Thu A Doan, Brian C Ware, Johnathon Schafer, Rui Fu, Matthew A Burchill, Jay R Hesselberth, Beth Ann Jiron Tamburini

The detection of foreign antigens in vivo has relied on fluorescent conjugation or indirect read-outs such as antigen presentation. In our studies, we found that these widely used techniques had several technical limitations that have precluded a complete picture of antigen trafficking or retention across lymph node cell types.  Complete Abstract


Taliaferro Highlight

ELAV/Hu RNA Binding Proteins Determine Multiple Programs of Neural Alternative Splicing

April 7, 2021

Seungjae Lee, Lu Wei, Binglong Zhang, Raeann Goering, Sonali Majumdar, Jiayu Wen, J Matthew Taliaferro, Eric C Lai 

ELAV/Hu factors are conserved RNA binding proteins (RBPs) that play diverse roles in mRNA processing and regulation. The founding member, Drosophila Elav, was recognized as a vital neural factor 35 years ago. Nevertheless, little was known about its impact on the transcriptome, and potential functional overlap with its paralogs. Complete Abstract