Subcellular Transcriptomics
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus



Welcome to the Taliaferro lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.  We study how the expression of genetic information is spatially regulated within a cell. 

Individual mRNA molecules are often trafficked to specific cellular locations which facilitates robust, localized protein production where and when it is needed.  Although thousands of mRNAs are asymmetrically distributed in cells, the RNA sequences and protein factors that regulate this process are unknown for the vast majority of messages. 

Our lab uses experimental and computational methods to understand mechanisms behind this regulation and how disruption of the process can result in neurological disease.




We study the spatial regulation of gene expression 


The key to being efficient and success is having everything you need at the right place at the right time.  As it turns out, this is true even on a subcellular level.  Our group works toward understanding the sequences within RNA molecules that govern their spatial organization as well as the RNA binding proteins that mediate this process.  The effects of RNA localization are most apparent in large, polarized cells.

As such, we use neuronal models and their subcellular fractionation as a system to study localized transcripts.  The two main focuses in the lab are devoted to studying cis and trans regulators of RNA localization, respectively.

Cis elements direct RNA molecules to cellular destinations


What elements within the transcriptome have the ability to direct RNAs to subcellular locations? We and many others have shown that most such sequences, termed “zipcodes” for their sorting abilities, reside in the 3’ untranslated regions of mRNAs.  

Using high-throughput screening, functional genomics, computational biology, as well as classical molecular and cell biology, we can zero in on sequences within transcripts that drive RNA localization.

Trans factors mediate the movement


Most RNA-based processes are driven through the complex interaction between RNA and proteins.  RNA localization is no different.  Several RNA binding proteins have been identified as key regulators of RNA localization.  Mutations in some of these factors are associated with neurological disease, implicating the misregulation of RNA localization in the development of disease phenotypes. 

With a functional genomics approach, we can identify individual transcripts that depend on the activity of specific RNA binding proteins for their proper localization, allowing insights into the mechanisms and specificities that govern RNA localization.



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Matthew Taliaferro, Ph.D.
PrincipAL investigator

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT


Ankita arora, PH.D.
postdoctoral fellow

Ph.D., Heidelberg University, Germany
Postdoc, University of California, San Francisco


Krysta Engel, Ph.D.
postdoctoral fellow

Ph.D. University of Alabama, Birmingham
Postdoc, Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology

Raeann Goering, B.S.
Graduate Student

B.S., Hamline University

Hei-Yong lo
MSTP Student

B.A. Washington University in St. Louis


Postdoctoral fellows

Amaresh Panda, Ph.D. Ramajuan Faculty Fellow, Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar, India

Summer Students

Brandon Titus NIH BRAiN Initiative
Pedro Tirado Velez RNA Bioscience Initiative Summer Intern


The lab is honored to have received an R35 MIRA Award from the NIH!  We will use these funds to study mechanisms that govern RNA localization in a variety of cell types.

The lab has received a grant!

Hei-Yong (Grant) Lo, an MSTP student, has decided to join the lab following his rotation. We are very excited to have him!

Welcome Hei-Yong!

Congrats Rae!

Rae has been awarded a place on the Molecular Biology Graduate Program’s T32 training grant!

Pedro Tirado Velez will be joining us this summer from Colorado College as part of the RNA Bioscience Initiative Summer Internship Program. Welcome Pedro!


All three lab members have received travel grants to attend the FASEB RNA localization conference this summer!

Congrats Ankita, Krysta,
and Rae!

Krysta has received a postdoctoral fellowship from cureSMA! This will fund her work seeking to understand how SMN regulates RNA transport in neurons and how this contributes to SMA phenotypes.


Brandon Titus from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs has joined the lab as a summer intern as part of the NIH BRAiN program!

Welcome Brandon!

The lab is honored to have received a Boettcher Foundation Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Award for 2018!  We will use these funds to study RNA mislocalization in the context of genetic neurological diseases.

The lab has received a grant!

Raeann Goering has joined the lab from the Molecular Biology program.  She is the lab's first graduate student!

Welcome Raeann!

Welcome Krysta!

Krysta Engel has joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow.  She joins us after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Alabama, Birmingham and a postdoctoral position at Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology. 

Welcome Ankita!

Ankita Arora has joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow.  The size of the lab has now doubled!  She joins us after completing her Ph.D. at Heidelberg University and a postdoctoral position at the University of California, San Francisco.  



matthew <dot> taliaferro <at> cuanschutz <dot> edu

Office mailing address:
12801 E 17th Ave
Research 1 South 10114
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Aurora, CO 80045
(303) 724-3274

Lab mailing address:
12801 E 17th Ave
Research 1 South 10403D
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Aurora, CO 80045