September 15, 2020 at 4:48 pm

Hines Publishes on RNA-Targeted Drug Discovery

Dr. Jennifer Hines, portrait in lab

Dr. Jennifer Hines

Dr. Jennifer Hines recently published a paper on targeting small molecules to disrupt the regulatory function of bacterial RNA. Her research group, in collaboration with Dr. Stephen Bergmeier’s research group, investigated the effect that limiting molecule flexibility had on RNA binding and function.

“While the skeletal structure of RNA is very similar to that of DNA, the way RNA folds in to a three-dimensional structure is much more flexible and complex” says Hines, “Consequently, to better target the RNA it can be beneficial to limit the flexibility of the drug.”

In the recently published paper, this strategy was applied to an RNA element in the T-box Riboswitch, a target unique to bacteria. The work is  part of a long-term research project to develop novel antibacterial agents and was supported by the National Institutes of Health [grants #1R15GM132841-01and 1C06 RR14575-01], the National Science Foundation [MRI grants CHE1338000 and CHE1428787], and the Ohio University Baker Award.

“Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, bacterial resistance to current medicines  continues to be a very serious global health threat. We will use the results described in this paper to design the next generation of lead compounds in the hopes of ultimately finding new treatments for bacterial infections,” says Hines, professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Ohio University.

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