How gene expression is controlled at the RNA level to support cellular function is arguably the most important unsolved problem in molecular biology. Our attention is primarily focused on understanding the proteins that bind to RNA and serve as its effectors and regulators. We are investigating the mechanistic principles and phenotypic impact of RNA-binding proteins in two cellular paradigms: 1) cell lineage commitment, especially differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to neurons, and 2) stem cell maintenance, with an eye toward a related process of cancer development. We employ a broad range of biochemical, genetic, cellular, and computational approaches to obtain a systems-level understanding of the regulatory roles of protein-RNA complexes. We also develop novel methods combining bioengineering, genome editing, and optogenetics to study how disruption of protein-RNA interactions contributes to neurological disorders.
More information on the Murn Lab
HONORS AND AWARDS
2017 Discovery Award, Department of Defense
2016 Professional Development Award, Boston Children's Hospital
2015 Epigenetics Initiative grant, Harvard Medical School
2012 Nancy Lurie Marks Postdoctoral Fellowship
2006 EGIDE Scholarship
2005 The European Science Foundation Research Fellowship
See publications on PubMed
Murn J, Shi Y. The winding path of protein methylation research: milestones and new frontiers. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol, PMID: 28512349 (2017).
Murn J, Teplova M, Zarnack K, Patel DJ, Shi Y. Recognition of distinct RNA motifs by the clustered CCCH zinc fingers of neuronal protein Unkempt. Nat Struct Mol Biol, 23, 16-23 (2016).
Cheloufi S, Elling U, Hopfgartner B, Jung Y, Murn J, Badeaux A, Blanco A, Ang CE, Tennen D, Ferrari F, Wesche D, Abazova N, Hogue M, Tasdemir N, Rathert P, Vidal S, Fellner M, Wenzel D, Zinner M, Stadtfeld M, Almouzni G, Lowe SW, Rinn J, Wernig M, Shi Y, Park P, Penninger JM, Zuber J, Hochedlinger K. The histone chaperone CAF-1 safeguards somatic cell identity. Nature, 528, 218-224 (2015).
Murn J#, Zarnack K, Yang YJ, Durak O, Murphy EA, Cheloufi S, Gonzalez DM, Teplova M, Curk T, Zuber J, Patel DJ, Ule J, Luscombe NM, Tsai LH, Walsh CA, Shi Y#. Control of a neuronal morphology program by an RNA-binding zinc finger protein Unkempt. Genes Dev, 29, 501-512 (2015).
Laurent B, Ruiti L, Murn J, Hempel K, Ferrao R, Xiang Y, Liu S, Garcia BA, Wu H, Wu F, Steen H, Shi Y. The LSD1/KDM1A neuro-specific isoform regulates neuronal differentiation through H3K9 demethylation. Mol Cell, S1097-2765(15)00011-8 (2015).
Busskamp V, Lewis NE, Guye P, Ng AH, Shipman SL, Byrne SM, Sanjana NE, Murn J, Li Y, Li S, Stadler M, Weiss R, Church GM. Rapid neurogenesis through transcriptional activation in human stem cells. Mol Syst Biol, 760, 1-21 (2014).