David Bartel, Ph.D.

Department of Biology
Professor, Biology Department
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Room WI-610
617-258-5287 (phone)


1993 Ph.D. Virology, Harvard University

Research Summary

We study RNA. A major focus is on microRNAs (miRNAs), which are ~22-nt RNAs that specify gene repression by pairing to messenger RNAs (mRNAs) of protein-coding genes. We also investigate other types of short RNAs that regulate genes, as well as long non-coding RNAs. In addition, we study mRNAs, with particular interest in their untranslated regions and tails, and how these regions recruit and mediate regulatory phenomena. Our experimental approaches include 1) evolutionary and computational analyses, e.g., showing that most human genes are regulated by miRNAs, 2) high-throughput molecular measurements, e.g., showing that mammalian miRNAs predominantly act to destabilize their mRNA targets, 3) detailed biochemical analyses, e.g., revealing molecular mechanisms of RNA-silencing components, and 4) phenotypic analyses, e.g., revealing biological functions of particular miRNA:target interactions, including interactions important for preventing human cancers.

Selected Publications

  • Guo, J.U. and D.P. Bartel. RNA G-quadruplexes are globally unfolded in eukaryotic cells and depleted in bacteria. Science 353:aaf5371 (2016).
  • Agarwal, V., G.W. Bell, J-W. Nam and D.P. Bartel. Predicting effective microRNA target sites in mammalian mRNAs. eLife 4:e05005 (2015).
  • Subtelny, A.O., S.W. Eichhorn, G.R. Chen, H. Sive and D.P. Bartel. Poly(A)-tail lengths and a developmental switch in translational control. Nature, 508:66-71 (2014).
  • Auyeung, V.C., I. Ulitsky, S.E. McGeary and D.P. Bartel. Beyond secondary structure: primary-sequence determinants license pri-miRNA hairpins for processing. Cell 152:844-858 (2013).
  • Nodine, M.D. and D.P. Bartel. Maternal and paternal genomes contribute equally to the transcriptome of early plant embryos. Nature 482:94-97 (2012).
  • Drinnenberg, I.A., G.R. Fink and D.P. Bartel. Compatibility with killer explains the rise of RNAi-deficient fungi. Science 333:1592 (2011).
  • Weinberg, D.E., K. Nakanishi, D.J. Patel and D.P. Bartel. The inside-out mechanism of Dicers from budding yeasts. Cell 146:262-276 (2011).
  • Jan, C.H., R.C. Friedman, J.G. Ruby and D.P. Bartel. Formation, regulation and evolution of Caenorhabditis elegans 3'UTRs. Nature 469:97-101 (2011).
  • Guo, H., N.T. Ingolia, J.S. Weissman and D.P. Bartel. Mammalian microRNAs predominantly act to decrease target mRNA levels. Nature 466:835-840 (2010).

Last Updated: September 26, 2016