Angela  Gao

Angela Gao

Scholar Title

Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar

Research Title

Role of the Nucleic Acid-Binding properties of ORF1 and ORF2 in LINE-1 retrotransposition





Research Areas
  • Computational Biology

Seychelle Vos


The LINE-1 (L1) retrotransposon is a mobile genetic element that has shaped the evolution of the human genome through its ability to copy-and-paste” itself into a target region. Retrotransposition can cause harmful mutations and occurs through the activity of just two proteins, ORF1 and ORF2. While the role of ORF2 in L1 insertion is well-characterized, less is known about the activity of ORF1 and the C-terminal region of ORF2. This project will use CryoEM and nucleic acid binding assays to determine the roles of these two targets in mediating retrotransposition. We will further investigate the interaction of ORF1 with Alu elements, a related transposon that mobilizes by parasitizing L1 proteins. This work may inform preventative treatments for diseases linked to L1 retrotransposition.”


Having worked on this project throughout my time at MIT, I am excited by the opportunity to cumulate and present my research through the SuperUROP program. I’m interested in structural biology because of its ability to inform mechanistic details of biological processes, and I hope to using these tools to investigate transposon-driven diseases. I look forward to having the time and flexibility to dive deeper into my research this semester.

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