Banerjee Lab

University at Buffalo, State University of New York

Research

Our lab focuses on understanding the physical principles of (non) folding and phase behavior of Intrinsically Disordered Proteins (IDPs) and their complexes with RNA and DNA using sensitive, high-resolution fluorescence microscopy, optical tweezer technology, microfluidics, cell biology, and computational methods.

Multilayered Condensate Formation
Droplet Fusion by Optical Tweezers


Decoding and Targeting Protein-RNA Condensates

In biological cells, multivalent disordered RNA/DNA-binding proteins form dynamic membraneless-condensates that play essential roles as hubs for intracellular storage and signaling. Examples include: the nucleolus, stress granules (SG), processing bodies (P-bodies or PB), transcription factories, PML bodies, heterochromatin domains, and para-speckles. In our laboratory, we investigate the most fundamental properties of these bio-condensates, including their structure, dynamics, composition, and fluid (transport) properties, which are critical to their cellular functions. Our studies will lay the ground work to therapeutically target bio-condensates that are associated with many human diseases including neurodegenerative disorders and certain types of cancers.

Correlative Optical Tweezers and Fluorescence Microscopy

We are developing novel multi-parametric methodology featuring correlative single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, optical tweezers, and microfluidics, a combination that will robustly quantify the rheology of nascent and matured nucleoprotein condensates in nano-to-microscale. We will employ this toolbox to dissect and target sequence-encoded molecular interactions that drive viscous-to-elastic transition of protein-RNA droplets.

Transcription Factor Condensates and Chromatin Compartments

We are employing an integrative experimental and computational approach to dissect the role of liquid-liquid phase separation in DNA condensation and transcription regulation at specific DNA sites.

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