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Joe Chihade

Joe Chihade


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My research interests are in the broad areas of protein-RNA interactions and RNA structure. These areas lie at the intersection of biology and chemistry, and encompass wide variety of scientific perspectives. These range from the "biological" questions of which proteins interact with particular RNAs, what the consequences of these interactions are to the living cell, and how particular interactions evolved, to the more "chemical" questions of how a specific functional group influences a macromolecular interaction or changes the structure of a macromolecule, and how a simple chemical reagent can be used to elucidate biological function.

For several years research in the lab has been focused on characterizing substrate recognition of alanyl-tRNA synthetases which aminoacylate the highly unusual tRNAs found in animal mitochondria. New projects involve evaluating aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases from parasitic worms as potential drug targets.

Education & Professional History

Oberlin College, BA; Columbia University, MA, PhD.; Post-doctoral work at M.I.T. and the Scripps Research Institute

At Carleton since 2003.

Highlights & Recent Activity

Editing activity for eliminating mischarged tRNAs is essential in mammalian mitochondria. Taru Hilander, Xiao-Long Zhou, Svetlana Konovalova, Fu-Ping Zhang, Liliya Euro, Dmitri Chilov, Matti Poutanen, Joseph Chihade, En-Duo Wang and Henna Tyynismaa. Nucleic Acids Research, 46, 849 (2018)

Unique features of human mitochondrial alanyl-tRNA synthetase and connections to human disease, presented at the IUBMB Focused Meeting on the Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetases, Clearwater, FL, October 31, 2017

Transfer RNA: from pioneering crystallographic studies to contemporary tRNA biology. Pablo Fernández-Millán, Cédric Schelcher, Joseph Chihade, Benoît Masquida, Philippe Giegé and Claude Sauter. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 602, 95 (2016).

Structural modeling of tissue-specific mitochondrial alanyl-tRNA synthetase (AARS2) defects predicts differential effects on aminoacylation. Liliya Euro, Svetlana Konovalova, Jorge Asin-Cayuela, Már Tulinius, Helen Griffin, Rita Horvath, Robert Taylor, Patrick Chinnery, Ulrike Schara, David Thoburn, Anu Suomalainen, Joseph Chihade, Henna Tyynismaa. Frontiers in Genetics, 6, 21 (2015).

A Streamlined Molecular Biology Module for Undergraduate Biochemistry Labs. Gregory W. Muth, Joseph Chihade. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 36, 209 (2008).


Organizations & Scholarly Affiliations

  • American Chemical Society
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • RNA Society
  • Sigma Xi
  • Council on Undergraduate Research
Profile updated November 6, 2018

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