Catherine Eichhorn

Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor Profile Image

Department of Chemistry
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
723 Hamilton Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0304
(402) 472-2426
ceichhor@unl.edu

Education

Postdoctoral fellow, University of California Los Angeles
Ph.D., University of Michigan Ann Arbor
B.A., Bryn Mawr College

Awards/Honors

2015-2017      American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests

RNA-mediated regulation of cellular processes, RNA-protein interactions, RNA dynamics, NMR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, biophysical chemistry, chemical biology

Current Research

Noncoding RNA and ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) perform essential biological functions such as transcription regulation, RNA splicing, RNA processing, and translation, yet the sophistication with which these regulatory elements direct cellular activities is only beginning to be elucidated. These processes are highly dynamic, often with RNA conformational and structural transitions that accompany protein recognition.  Failure of these RNAs and RNPs to properly fold and assemble can give rise to diseases such as blood and solid tumor cancers, heart disease, and neurodegeneration. Despite its medical significance many questions remain regarding how RNA folds, assembles with specific proteins in the correct order, and carries out discrete functions.

Our research program uses integrated structural biology, biophysical, and chemical biology tools to investigate the folding and function of regulatory RNAs and RNPs. We aim to elucidate the biophysical properties governing RNP assembly and stability in order to achieve a rigorous understanding of how RNPs regulate gene expression in healthy individuals, and how dysfunction leads to divergent disease phenotypes. The principles deduced from these studies will provide valuable information on RNA conformational dynamics, RNA-protein recognition, and mechanisms of hierarchical protein assembly onto structured RNAs, enabling future studies to probe the mechanism further in vivo and informing the design of therapeutics to target diseases caused by improperly functioning regulatory RNPs. We take a highly interdisciplinary approach using solution NMR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, and electron microscopy, as well as biochemical and biophysical methods to investigate RNA structure and dynamics, RNA-protein interactions, and RNP function. Research in the laboratory provides diverse training opportunities in spectroscopy, calorimetry, structural biology, biophysics, computational modeling, chemical biology, and biochemistry.

Selected Publications

* indicates equal authorship

(1) Yang, Y*, Eichhorn, CD*, Wang, Y, Cascio, D, Feigon, J. “Structural basis for 7SK RNA 5¢ g-phosphate methylation and retention by MePCE” Nature Chemical Biology 15(2), 132-140 (2019).

(2) Eichhorn, CD, Yang, Y, Repeta, L, Feigon, J. “Structural basis for recognition of human 7SK long noncoding RNA by the La-related protein Larp7” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 115, E6457-6466 (2018).

(3) Eichhorn, CD, Chug, R, Feigon, J. “hLARP7 C-terminal domain contains an xRRM that binds the 3¢ hairpin of 7SK RNA” Nucleic Acids Research 44, 9977-9989 (2016).

(4) Kang, M, Eichhorn, CD, and Feigon, J. “Structural determinants for ligand capture by the class II preQ1 riboswitch” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 111, E663-671 (2014).

(5) Eichhorn, CD, Feng, J, Suddala, KC, Walter, NG, Brooks, CL III, Al-Hashimi, HM. “Unraveling the structural complexity in a single-stranded RNA tail: implications for efficient ligand binding in the prequeuosine riboswitch” Nucleic Acids Research 40, 1345-1355 (2012).