Katie is a fifth year student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Ph.D program.
She attended Liberty University where she completed a Bachelor of Science degree in biology with a minor in chemistry
My research focus is on the conserved RNA-binding protein Musashi, the proteins it associates with, and the effect those associations have on regulating translation. Musashi is a biomarker for stem cells, regulating asymmetrical differentiation and maintaining a stem cell population. Originally studied as a translational repressor, the MacNicol lab has found that Musashi is required for the translational activation of specific transcripts. However, while Musashi uses its two N-terminal RNA-recognition motifs to bind to RNA, its C-terminus is disordered and contains no enzymatic or catalytic domains. Therefore, Musashi must require protein interactions in complexes to regulate translation, the composition of which could regulate Musashi-dependent translational effects. One of those proteins is Lsm14B. We are one of the first labs to identify Lsm14B as a translational activator, and the first group to identify the Musashi:Lsm14B interaction to be necessary to translate Mos and Cyclin B5 proteins in Xenopus oocytes to re-initiation of the cell cycle as well as translating the pituitary development-specific transcription factor Prop1. I have also discovered over 200 proteins that likely associate with Musashi independent of RNA in the mouse anterior pituitary through immunoprecipitations and mass spectrometry. My research will lay the groundwork for future investigations into the regulation of Musashi-bound RNA transcripts due to Musashi-protein interactions.
Notable about her time as a graduate student
Being a Ph.D. student is already a unique experience – a global pandemic in the middle of your Ph.D. truly makes it even more unique. The amount of personal growth I have experienced not only through the usual Ph.D. experience but also through these universally trying times has affected my approach to science and my research goals, highlighting the need for good science and excellent communication.
Her career goals
I will be expanding my research training and experience through a post-doctoral research position here at UAMS.
Experiment or technique she would most like to do
I would love to learn how to conduct bioinformatics analyses.
Fun fact about Katie
I joke that I’m preparing my retirement hobbies – I love gardening, crochet, reading, and tennis. A goal of mine is to have a library of books I’ve already read.