Structure and Function of Introns and Retroelements
University of Calgary
University of Calgary
RNA Structural Biology,
Awards and Academic Honors
The projects in my lab focus on the structure and function of non-coding regions of prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes. Two genetic elements particularly abdundant in these organisms are introns and retroelements. For example, ~50% of the human genome consists of spliceosomal introns and non-LTR retroelements. Both of these are considered to have evolved from a class of introns which orginated in bacteria billions of years ago called the group II introns. Group II introns share many structural and/or biochemical features with spliceosomal introns and non-LTR retroelements. Previously, I worked on determining the first crystal structure of a group II intron (figure 1). This revealed the active site of this ribozyme to contain two catalytic metal ions coordinated by a conserved RNA structural motif called domain 5. Since the group II and spliceosomal introns both share this RNA structure, spliceosomal introns should also have the same active site arrangement.
Primary Research Area
I have mentored minority graduate and undergraduate students during my graduate and postdoctoral work. I believe that it is essential to encourage underrepresented groups to participate in science. It is possible for anyone to excel at research given the appropriate environment and intellectual stimulation. As a member of the graduate admissions committee, I have promoted the recruitment of underrepresented minority candidates.
As an example of my commitment to fostering the academic development of underrepresented minorities in science, I have advised multiple minority students in my undergraduate Chem 114A course in terms of career choices and future goals.
Crystal Structure of the Group II Intron with Ligated Exon Substrate
- Robart AR, Chan RT, Peters JK, Rajashankar KR, Toor N "Crystal structure of a eukaryotic group II intron lariat", Nature, 2014,
- Chan RT, Robart AR, Rajashankar KR, Pyle AM, Toor N, "Crystal structure of a group II intron in the pre-catalytic state.", Nat Struct Mol Biol, 2012, Vol. 19, Issue 5, 555-7
- Toor N, Keating KS, Pyle AM, "Structural insights into RNA splicing.", Curr Opin Struct Biol, 2009, Vol. 19, Issue 3, 260-6
- Keating KS, Toor N, Pyle AM, "The GANC tetraloop: a novel motif in the group IIC intron structure.", J Mol Biol, 2008, Vol. 383, Issue 3, 475-81
- Toor N, Keating KS, Taylor SD, Pyle AM, "Crystal structure of a self-spliced group II intron.", Science, 2008, Vol. 320, Issue 5872, 77-82
- Toor N, Rajashankar K, Keating KS, Pyle AM, "Structural basis for exon recognition by a group II intron.", Nat Struct Mol Biol, 2008, Vol. 15, Issue 11, 1221-2
- Toor N, Robart AR, Christianson J, Zimmerly S, "Self-splicing of a group IIC intron: 5' exon recognition and alternative 5' splicing events implicate the stem-loop motif of a transcriptional terminator.", Nucleic Acids Res, 2006, Vol. 34, Issue 22, 6461-71
- Dai L, Toor N, Olson R, Keeping A, Zimmerly S, "Database for mobile group II introns.", Nucleic Acids Res, 2003, Vol. 31, Issue 1, 424-6
- Toor N, Zimmerly S, "Identification of a family of group II introns encoding LAGLIDADG ORFs typical of group I introns.", RNA, 2002, Vol. 8, Issue 11, 1373-7
- Toor N, Hausner G, Zimmerly S, "Coevolution of group II intron RNA structures with their intron-encoded reverse transcriptases.", RNA, 2001, Vol. 7, Issue 8, 1142-52