Jeffrey Pleiss
Assistant Professor

Jeffrey Pleiss

Phone

607-254-8562

Address

Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics
451 Biotechnology Building
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-2703

Email

Web Sites

Department Profile

Background

A major focus of the work in my lab is to understand one of the most fundamental problems in molecular biology today: how do organisms regulate the expression of their genetic material? In particular, our work examines the role of pre-mRNA splicing in this process. Because the coding regions of most eukaryotic genes are interrupted by non-coding introns, appropriate expression of these genes requires the precise removal of their introns in a process catalyzed by the spliceosome. While the presence of introns in eukaryotic genes has been known for over three decades, the importance of pre-mRNA splicing in the gene expression pathway has been reinforced by the sequencing of the human genome. While many were initially surprised by the relatively small number of genes encoded in our genome, it soon became clear that a significant amount of genomic diversity could be generated by changing the order in which the coding regions of many genes are spliced together – a process termed alternative splicing (reviewed in Black Cell 2000; Blencowe Cell 2006). Indeed, the average human gene is interrupted by eight introns (Lander, et al. Nature 2001), and it is now clear that the splicing patterns for many genes change in different cell types and under different developmental conditions. The importance of pre-mRNA splicing and its appropriate regulation has been further augmented over the past few years by the number of disease states that have been associated with its mis-regulation (reviewed in Faustino and Cooper, Genes Dev 2003). While these examples make clear the importance of the process of alternative splicing, remarkably little is currently known about the capacity of the spliceosome to function as a regulatory control point in the gene expression pathway.

Research Description

Research in our lab focuses broadly on the area of RNA biology.  We are taking microarray-based approaches to examine questions both about the mechanism of pre-mRNA splicing, as well as the role of splicing as a control point for regulating gene expression.  We are studying aspects of RNA processing both in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as well as the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe.