Paul Fang


Ph.D. Candidate in Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA
B.S. in Biochemistry, California State University Fullerton, Fullerton, CA, 2009

Research Interests: 

RNA is a polymer that holds a gun to its own head. The 2'-hydroxyl group is poised to attack the adjacent phosphate, cleaving the backbone. I am interested in understanding how such a fragile polymer could have spawned life in the harsh environment of the ancient earth. I have found that the stability of RNA to self-cleavage can be tuned over an amazing broad range. Free unstructured RNA is highly labile, especially in the presence of divalent cations. Folding of RNA into stem-loops, as seen the ribosome, increases RNA lifetimes. Association of folded RNA with certain peptides and proteins increases RNA lifetime even more. My general hypothesis is that RNA was selected by early evolutionary processes based on the broad tunability of its chemical stability.

Selected publications: 

Hsiao, C, Lenz, TK, Peters, JK, Fang, PY, Schneider, DM, Anderson, EJ, Preeprem, T, Bowman, JC, O'Neill, EB, Lie, L, Athavale, SS, Gossett, JJ, Trippe, C, Murray, J, Petrov, AS, Wartell, RM, Harvey, SC, Hud, NV, and Williams, LD (2013) "Molecular Paleontology: A Biochemical Model of the Ancestral Ribosome", Nucleic Acids Res. 41, 3373-3385.