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FIP Seminar: Revealing biological pathways with time-resolved fluorescence

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Dr. Sharonda LeBlanc, Assistant Professor of Physics, North Carolina State University

Large numbers of inanimate biomolecular machines organize across space and time and undergo drastic changes in shape to carry out complex biological processes. The detailed molecular mechanisms of these tightly regulated pathways are rarely known but driven by series of highly coordinated protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interactions. Catching these transient events in action requires fast detection and high sensitivity, which is offered by time-resolved fluorescence methods. I will discuss single molecule time-resolved fluorescence microscopy and spectroscopy as a tool to explore in real time the interactions and structural rearrangements that drive specific pathways. We are currently studying the mechanisms of ribosome assembly, SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA processing, and DNA mismatch repair. We have designed assays for simultaneous FRET and FCS measurements to investigate several fundamental questions. In my talk, I will present recent findings that reveal the dynamic interactions between essential enzymes, assembly factors, and nucleic acids. We aim to completely characterize the impact of mutations on the molecular function of enzymes to understand how complex diseases develop at the molecular level and to identify new therapeutic targets.
Sharonda LeBlanc, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Physics at North Carolina State University. She graduated from the Nanoscale Science PhD program at UNC Charlotte in 2012. Her lab designs single molecule fluorescence-based assays to investigate biomolecules in action and answer fundamental biological questions. Time-resolved fluorescence methods employed in her lab include fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) to monitor fast biomolecular interactions that drive biological pathways. We are primarily focused on questions related to three distinct systems: 1) SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA processing 2) ribosome assembly, and 3) DNA repair. She enjoys spending spare time with her husband and two daughters.

Contact: August Burns