Defense Date


Graduation Date

Winter 12-18-2020


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Chemistry and Biochemistry


Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Committee Chair

Mihaela Rita Mihailescu

Committee Member

David W. Seybert

Committee Member

Michael Cascio

Committee Member

Bruce Armitage


Alzheimer's disease, FMRP, FUS, microRNA, RNA structure, SARS-CoV-2


The studies outlined in this dissertation encompass a broad focus, relating to the pathogenesis of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, fragile X syndrome, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, as well as a novel infectious disease, COVID-19. However, all four studies detailed within this dissertation contain similar elements, namely, the coordinated role of RNA structure and function in essential molecular mechanisms. The results of these investigations allow us to speculate on various disease- related mechanisms, including dysregulated microRNA processing pathways, nucleocytoplasmic shuttling via distinct RNA-protein interactions, and fine-tuned molecular switches controlling genomic dimerization and viral hijacking of host cellular microRNAs. Taken together, these studies highlight the importance of RNA structure and function in relation to disease etiology and elucidate previously unknown molecular mechanisms to potentially be targeted by future therapeutic drug intervention.



Additional Citations

Imperatore, J. A., Then, M. L., McDougal, K. B., & Mihailescu, M. R. (2020a). Characterization of a G-Quadruplex structure in pre-miRNA-1229 and in its Alzheimer’s disease-associated variant rs2291418: Implications for miRNA-1229 maturation. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21.

Imperatore, J. A., McAninch, D. S., Valdez-Sinon, A. N., Bassell, G. J., & Mihailescu, M. R. (2020b). FUS Recognizes G Quadruplex Structures Within Neuronal mRNAs. Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, 7.

Available for download on Saturday, December 18, 2021