Cameron Mura


  • PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
  • BS, Georgia Institute of Technology

Primary Appointment

  • Assistant Professor, Chemistry


Research Interest(s)

Structure, function & evolution of RNA-processing assemblies; structural and computational biology; molecular biophysics

Research Description

The Mura lab employs experimental and computational approaches to understand the structure, function/dynamics, and evolution of RNA- and DNA-based protein assemblies. In particular, we seek a deeper understanding of ribonucleoprotein (RNP) assemblies -- What these protein/RNA complexes look like at atomic resolution (structure), their assembly pathways and dynamical behavior (function), and the interrelationships between Sm and Sm-like systems (evolution).

Discovered as the antigens in the autoimmune disease lupus, Sm proteins are now known to form a broad, evolutionarily-conserved family that play key roles in most aspects of RNA metabolism (including mRNA splicing), as well as in bacterial cell-cell communication networks ("quorum sensing"). Sm-based complexes such as the spliceosome exceed the ribosome in terms of both size and architectural complexity, thereby providing an immensely rich area for ongoing studies.

Current work focuses on Sm systems drawn from both a well-established context (splicing) and a more recently emerging area (quorum sensing) that is of major biomedical significance because of its involvement in biofilm-mediated bacterial pathogenesis. The research program being developed to pursue this work is necessarly highly interdisciplinary, relying particularly heavily on methods from structural biology (e.g., crystallography) and computational chemistry (e.g., molecular dynamics simulations), in addition to traditional wet-lab biochemistry.

Selected Publications

  • Panecka J, Mura C, Trylska J. Interplay of the bacterial ribosomal A-site, S12 protein mutations and paromomycin binding: a molecular dynamics study. PloS one. 2014;9(11): e111811. PMID: 25379961 | PMCID: PMC4224418
  • Mura C, Randolph P, Patterson J, Cozen A. Archaeal and eukaryotic homologs of Hfq: A structural and evolutionary perspective on Sm function. RNA biology. 2013;10(4): 636-51. PMID: 23579284 | PMCID: PMC3710371
  • Patterson J, Mura C. Rapid colorimetric assays to qualitatively distinguish RNA and DNA in biomolecular samples. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 2013; e50225. PMID: 23407542
  • Cieślik M, Derewenda Z, Mura C. Abstractions, algorithms and data structures for structural bioinformatics in PyCogent. Journal of applied crystallography. 2012;44 424-428. PMID: 22479120 | PMCID: PMC3253748
  • Cieślik M, Mura C. A lightweight, flow-based toolkit for parallel and distributed bioinformatics pipelines. BMC bioinformatics. 2011;12 61. PMID: 21352538 | PMCID: PMC3051902
  • Mura C, McCrimmon C, Vertrees J, Sawaya M. An introduction to biomolecular graphics. PLoS computational biology. 2010;6(8). PMID: 20865174 | PMCID: PMC2928806
  • Yawn B, Zhang L, Mura C, Sukhodolets M. RapA, the SWI/SNF subunit of Escherichia coli RNA polymerase, promotes the release of nascent RNA from transcription complexes. Biochemistry. 2009;48(33): 7794-806. PMID: 19580329 | PMCID: PMC3097056
  • Mura C, McCammon J. Molecular dynamics of a kappaB DNA element: base flipping via cross-strand intercalative stacking in a microsecond-scale simulation. Nucleic acids research. 2008;36(15): 4941-55. PMID: 18653524 | PMCID: PMC2528173
  • Mura C, Kozhukhovsky A, Gingery M, Phillips M, Eisenberg D. The oligomerization and ligand-binding properties of Sm-like archaeal proteins (SmAPs). Protein science : a publication of the Protein Society. 2003;12(4): 832-47. PMID: 12649441 | PMCID: PMC2323858
  • Mura C, Phillips M, Kozhukhovsky A, Eisenberg D. Structure and assembly of an augmented Sm-like archaeal protein 14-mer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2003;100(8): 4539-44. PMID: 12668760 | PMCID: PMC404694