Jan 21, 2016

Meet Dr. Arttu Jolma

headshot of man wearing glasses
By Jovana Drinjakovic

Later this year, Dr. Arttu Jolma will be joining the groups of Drs. Tim Hughes and Quaid Morris, where he will investigate molecular mechanisms behind gene expression.

Jolma completed his PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Jussi Taipale, the head of Systems Biology at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, where he developed new technologies for mapping transcription factor (TF) binding specificities. TFs are proteins that recognize and bind short sequences, known as motifs, in the DNA to regulate gene expression. The genome is littered with such sequences, and ensuring that a gene is turned on or off at the right time often requires two or more TFs to bind a composite motif together. Jolma’s new method, called CAP-SELEX, allowed him to identify these composite target sequences in the genome. Contrary to a held belief, in which a pair of TFs first bind each other before attaching to the DNA, Jolma showed that it is actually the DNA that brings the TFs together. These results were published in Nature last month. Jolma’s doctorate research also landed him a number of other high profile publications, including papers in Nature Genetics and Cell.

For his postdoctoral training, Jolma will investigate, in a systematic manner, how pairs of regulatory proteins interact with RNA molecules during later steps of gene expression. The project is expected to generate a vast amount of data and its success rests on a close collaboration between experts in different fields, especially molecular biologists and computational scientists. This makes the Hughes and Morris labs the perfect fit for Jolma.

“We believe that Arttu will be a strong addition to our research program(s) and also a good colleague at the Donnelly, strengthening links among several RNA-oriented groups,” said Hughes and Morris.