|2013 -||Chair of Biochemistry||Department of Biology, University of York|
|2006 - 2012||Group Leader||Beatson Institute for Cancer Research|
|1999 - 2012||Personal Chair||University of Glasgow|
|1996 - 2001||Lister Institute Jenner Research Fellow||University of Glasgow|
|1995 - 1999||Lecturer||University of Glasgow|
|1990 -1995||Postdoc||University of Cambridge|
|1990||PhD||National Institute for Medical Research|
|1986||BA||University of Oxford|
Key research interests
RNA polymerase III is an essential, highly specialized enzyme that transcribes DNA to make an eclectic mix of short noncoding RNAs, such as tRNA. This transcription is highly regulated under many conditions, including cell growth, differentiation, infection and oncogenic transformation. My research has focused on the molecular mechanisms responsible for this regulation and its functional consequences.
White, R.J. (2011) Transcription by RNA polymerase III – more complex than we thought. Nature Rev Genet. 12, 459-463.
Fairley, J. A., Mitchell, L. E., Berg, T., Kenneth, N. S., von Schubert, C., Sillje, H. H. W., Medema, R. H., Nigg, E. A. and White, R. J. (2012) Direct regulation of tRNA and 5S rRNA gene transcription by Polo-like kinase 1. Mol. Cell 45, 541-552.
I identified key regulators of RNA polymerase III transcription, including repression by the retinoblastoma tumour suppressor RB and stimulation by the proto-oncogene product c-Myc. I characterized how transcription by RNA polymerase III is regulated when mammalian cells grow, progress through the cell cycle, differentiate or respond to oncogenes. I have discovered multiple links between the transcriptional output of RNA polymerase III and cancer.
Novel Regulators of Plant Growth (2014-15)
Supervisors: Bob White, Louise Jones and Ian Graham
As populations increase, the need to improve crop yields is becoming increasingly urgent. Levels of tRNA can strongly influence growth in some organisms by influencing rates of protein synthesis, but almost nothing is currently known about how tRNA expression is connected to the growth of plants. Our project will characterize this fundamental issue to illuminate basic principles of growth control in plant seedlings. It will combine molecular biology and genetic approaches to characterize tRNA gene regulation in terms of transcription factors and epigenetic changes. It will also test whether raising tRNA expression can stimulate seedling growth.