349 Biotechnology Building
Jeff Roberts is the Robert J. Appel Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. He obtained his Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University in 1970 and was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England from 1970-71. He returned to Harvard as a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows in 1971 before joining the Cornell faculty in 1974.
We study DNA transcription by the enzyme RNA polymerase, and particularly the elongation process, which is regulated to synchronize the appearance of RNA with its utilization by the cell. Our major focus is on transcription antiterminators, genetic regulatory proteins that interfere with the ability of RNA polymerase to recognize stop signals that otherwise prevent downstream genes from being expressed. Antiterminators exemplify a class of regulatory proteins associated with RNA polymerase that affect stages in the maturation of messenger RNA molecules in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, through modification of the basic enzymatic properties of RNA polymerase. The system we use is that of the bacteriophage lambda late gene regulator Q, whose activity in a purified transcription system is revealing in detail fundamental aspects of the processes of elongation and termination, and of the interaction of transcription proteins with DNA.
B.Z. Ring, W.S. Yarnell, and J.W. Roberts (1996). Function of E. coli RNA Polymerase Sigma Factor s70 in Promoter-Proximal Pausing. Cell, 86, 485-493.
C.W. Roberts and J.W. Roberts (1996). Base Specific Recognition of the Nontemplate Strand of Promoter DNA by E. coli RNA Polymerase. Cell 86, 495-501 (1996)
M.T. Marr and J.W. Roberts (1997). "Promoter Recognition As Measured by Binding of Polymerase to Nontemplate Strand Oligonucleotide." Science, 276, 1258-1260.
Ko, D.C., Marr, M.T., Guo, J., and Roberts, J.W. (1998). A Surface of E. coli s70 Required for Promoter Function and Antitermination by Phage Lambda Q Protein. Genes and Development 12, 3276-3285.
Roberts, J.W., Yarnell, W., Bartlett, E., Guo, J., Marr, M., Ko, D., Sun, H., and Roberts, C.W. (1999). Antitermination by Phage l Q Protein. Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology 63, 319-325.
Yarnell, W.S., and Roberts, J.W. (1999). Mechanism of Intrinsic Transcription Termination and Antitermination. Science 284, 611-615.
Marr, M.T., & J.W. Roberts (2000). "Function of Transcription Factors GreA and GreB at a Regulatory Pause Site", Molecular Cell, 6, 1275-1285
Marr, M.T., Saul A. Datwyler, Claude F. Meares, & Jeffrey W. Roberts (2001). "Restructuring of an RNA polymerase holoenzyme elongation complex by lambdoid phage Q proteins" Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 98, 8972-8978
Park, J.-S., M.T. Marr, & J.W. Roberts (2002). "E. coli Transcription Repair Coupling Factor (Mfd protein) Rescues Arrested Complexes by Promoting Forward Translocation" Cell 109, 757-767
Nickels, B.E., Roberts, C.W., Sun, H., Roberts, J.W., & Hochschild, A. (2002). "The s70 subunit of RNA polymerase is contacted by the lQ antiterminator during early elongation " Molecular Cell, 10, 611-622
Adelman, K., La Porta, A., Santangelo, T.J., Lis, J.T., Roberts, J.W., & Wang, M.D. (2002) "Single Molecule Analysis of RNA Polymerase Elongation Reveals Uniform Kinetic Behavior" Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 99, 13538-13543
Santangelo, T.J., Mooney, R.A., Landick, R., & Roberts, J.W., (2003). "RNA Polymerase mutations that impair conversion to a termination resistant complex by Q antiterminator proteins" Genes & Development, 17, 1281-1292
Ryder, Andrew M. & Jeffrey W. Roberts (2003). “Role of the Non-template Strand of the Elongation Bubble in Intrinsic Transcription Termination”. J. Mol. Biol. 334, 205-213
Guo, Jingshu and Roberts, Jeffrey W. (2004). “DNA Binding Regions of Q Proteins of Phages land f80” J. Bacteriology 186, 3599-3608
Santangelo, T.J. and Roberts, J.W., (2004). “Forward Translocation Is the Natural Pathway of RNA Release at an Intrinsic Terminator”. Mol. Cell 14, 117-126.
Park, J.-S. & J.W. Roberts (2006). “Role of DNA Bubble Rewinding in Enzymatic Transcription Termination” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 103, 4870-4875
Nickels, B.E., Roberts, C.W., Roberts, J.W., and Hochschild, A. (2006). “RNA-Mediated Destabilization of the s70 Region 4/b Flap Interaction Facilitates Engagement of RNA Polymerase by the Q Antiterminator” Mol. Cell. 24, 457-468
Roberts, J.W. (2006). “RNA Polymerase, A Scrunching Machine” Science 314, 1097-1098. [A Perspective]