Ataide Lab

Structural biology, RNA interactions and seekRNA gene editing
We conduct structural and mechanistic studies of noncoding-RNAs (ncRNAs) and RNA-protein complexes (RNPs) involved in cell maintenance processes, and discover and develop seekRNA technology for precise gene editing.

Our aims

Using a combination of biophysical, biochemical and cell biology approaches we investigate the complex functional life of the ncRNAs and RNP complexes. Our aim is to discover, understand and manipulate ncRNAs and RNPs to help the development of basic and applied research. We are developing a pipeline to identify and develop molecules that target RNP and to improve the seekRNA technology that we discovered for precise genome manipulation.

Our research

Life and cell survival are dependent on the multiple functions and regulations provided by RNAs and RNPs. We aim to determine the structure and of ncRNAs and RNPs to develop molecules that target them and disrupt their function for the development of antibiotic, anti-viral or other diseases treatment. And understand and reengineer the reprogrammable seekRNA system that can precisely insert a DNA into a target site.

Rezwan Siddiquee, Carol Pong, Caitlin McCormack, and collaborators Ruth Hall and Alex Wu.

The seekRNA technology uses the site-specific insertion properties of the unusual transposition system of IS110/1111 family members that is mediated by an RNA guided mechanism. The unique reprogrammable seekRNA precisely recognizes the target site in a unique manner and the transposase autonomously insert the new DNA sequence in a precise directional manner without site duplication or indels. We are investigating the molecular details of the system and re-engineering it as the new frontier in genome manipulation technique.

Yichen (Jessica) Zhong, Madeline McCrae, Esther Zhang, Jameel Abduljalil, and collaborators A. Prof Ann Kwan, A. Prof Belinda Abott, Prof Sarah Woodson.

RNPs are composed of RNAs and RNA binding proteins (RBPs) and they regulate essential pathways of cells survival in all kingdoms of life. To date very few molecules target RBPs and they represent an untapped source or new targets for drug development ranging from antibiotics, anti-virals and for treatment of other diseases such as cancer. Our team is developing a pipeline to identify and develop molecules that mimic the RNA, such as modified RNAs or PNAs (Peptide Nucleic Acids) or direct target the RNA binding site in RBPs via a small molecule or modified peptides.

Cell survival relies in several fundamental biological processes regulated by specialized RNPs. Currently, our understanding of each biological process regulated by RNPs is far from complete. Our team has elucidated two of these processes:

Yichen (Jessica) Zhong and collaborators Junjie Feng, Adrian F Koh, Abhay Kotecha and Basil Greber.

Signal Recognition Particle (SRP) is an essential RNP conserved across all kingdoms of life that recognizes and delivers in a co-translational manner membrane and secretory proteins to the plasma membrane in prokaryotes and to the endoplasmic reticulum in eukaryotes. Our recent work has solved a long-standing question about function of the human SRP68/72 protein using cryo-EM structure and biochemical characterization of their RNA binding activity to coordinate ribosome handover and un-stalling. 

Rezwan Siddiquee and past members James Walshe and collaborator Karishma Patel

ANTAR domain controls genes expression upon binding of an hexaloop present in anti-termination RNA stem to prevent premature termination of RNA transcription of certain genes. Using X-ray crystallography and biochemical characterization of the RNP structure we have identified a new set of interactions that can be used in synthetic biology to create new regulatory circuits.


Yichen Zhong, Junjie Feng, Adrian F Koh, Abhay Kotecha, Basil J Greber, Sandro F Ataide

Nucleic Acids Research, gkae107,

Rezwan Siddiquee, Carol H. Pong, Ruth M. Hall, Sandro F. Ataide

bioRxiv 2024.04.26.591405; doi:

Our people

Group lead


  • Dr. Carol Pong

PhD Students

Honours Students 

  • Catlin McCormack
  • Esther Zhang


We are open and interested in industry or external researchers to collaborate/partner on any of our research projects. We welcome PhD students and Post-Doc applications. Send an e-mail with your interest to:

Sandro Fernandes Ataide

Lecturer in Structural Biology
  • Room 672 Molecular Bioscience Building G08