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Structural and Computational Biology and Molecular Biophysics

Houston, Texas

A BCM research lab.
Structural and Computational Biology & Molecular Biophysics
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Y. Whitney Yin, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology
University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston


M.D., Tianjin Medical College, Tianjin, China (1988)
Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1995)

Research Interests:

Our research focuses on several aspects of DNA replication and gene transcription using methods of crystallography and other biochemistry and biophysics.
Structural basis for anti-HIV drug toxicity
Human mitochondrial DNA polymerase has been implicated in drug toxicity of antiviral drugs designed against HIV reverse transcriptase. We use structures of human mitochondrial DNA polymerase as a guide for designing more potent and less toxic antiviral agents.
Mechanism for gene expression in mitochondria
Gene expression system in mitochondria shows a clear viral origin: The mitochondrial RNA polymerase active site domain resembles that of T7 bacteriophage. However, mitoRNA polymerase differs from T7 RNA polymerase by functionally depending on transcription factors. Studies of mitochondrial transcription not only provides us important links between human diseases an gene expression defects, but also a valuable point on evolution of transcription systems.
Bioengineering of T7 RNA polymerase for new functions
T7 RNA polymerase is a major tool for RNA synthesis in vitro. We are working on reengineering the polymerase to gain various functions for generation modified RNA.

Selected Publications:

  • Yin YW. Structural insight on processivity, human disease and antiviral drug toxicity. Curr Opin Struct Biol, 21(1):83-91 (2011). PubMed
  • Lee YS, Molineux IJ and Yin YW. A single mutation in human mitochondrial DNA polymerase Pol gammaA affects both polymerization and proofreading activities of only the holoenzyme. J Biol Chem, 285(36):28105-16 (2010). PubMed
  • Lee YS, Lee S, Demeler B, Molineux IJ, Johnson KA and Yin YW. Each monomer of the dimeric accessory protein for human mitochondrial DNA polymerase has a distinct role in conferring processivity. J Biol Chem, 285(2):1490-9 (2010). PubMed
  • Lee YS, Kennedy WD and Yin YW. Structural insight into processive human mitochondrial DNA synthesis and disease-related polymerase mutations. Cell, 139(2):312-24 (2009). PubMed
  • Challa M, Malladi S, Pellock BJ, Dresnek D, Varadarajan S, Yin YW, White K and Bratton SB. Drosophilia OMI, a mitochondrial-localized IAP antagonist and proapoptotic serine protease.EMBO J, 26(13):3144-56 (2007). PubMed
  • Kennedy WP, Momand JR and Yin YW. Mechanism for de novo RNA synthesis and initiating nucleotide specificity by t7 RNA polymerase. J Mol Biol, 370(2):256-68 (2007). PubMed

For more publications, see listing on PubMed

Contact Information:

Department: Pharmacology and Toxicology
Address: University of Texas Medical Branch
301 University Blvd.
Galveston, TX 77555
Phone: 409-772-9631
Fax: 409-772-9651

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