Scott A Strobel

Deputy Provost for Teaching & Learning; Vice President for West Campus Planning & Program Development; Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Professor of Chemistry; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor; Henry Ford II Professor


Professor Strobel's laboratory investigates the structural and mechanistic basis of RNA enzymes, with particular attention to two systems: self-splicing introns and peptide bond formation by the ribosome. The overriding question being addressed is: How does RNA, which is composed of building blocks best suited for a role in the storage of genetic information, catalyze biologically essential chemical reactions? To explore this question, they use chemical, biochemical, and biophysical methods ranging from organic synthesis to X-ray crystallography. These complementary approaches provide high-resolution biochemical and structural information about the RNAs under investigation. Their results have revealed that RNA uses catalytic strategies that are strikingly similar to those of proteins, the more adept and more common catalyst within cells. This includes catalysis promoted by active-site metal ions and substrate-assisted catalysis involving chemical groups on the reaction substrates.