About Us

The Center for Dynamic RNA Epitranscriptomes (CDRE), at the University of Chicago,
is directed by Dr. Chuan He and by Dr. Tao Pan as co-director.


Biology meets chemistry:   RNA in cells is not just made of four nucleotides; rather, it is extensively modified in cell type and cell state dependent manners. Over 100 types of chemical modifications have been identified in all three domains of life. Over 60 types of modifications have been found in mammals that are present in all RNA classes. They include methylation of bases and the ribose backbone, rotation and reduction of uridine, base deamination, elaborate addition of ring structures and carbohydrate moieties, and many more. For example, N6-methyl-adenosine (m6A) is the most abundant internal modifications in messenger and long non-coding RNA. This modification occurs in many sites of mRNA and lncRNA with characterized, regulatory functions in splicing, export, cytoplamic localization, stability, translation activity, immune tolerance, and others. Importantly, m6A in mRNA and lncRNA can also be removed by enzymes encoded in our genomes. The reversibility enables m6A to be dynamic, and capable of adjusting the transcriptome to rapidly changing biological needs. Therefore, RNA modifications control the metabolism and fate of RNA species through chemistry.

Center for Dynamic RNA Epitranscriptomes (CDRE)   The goals of CDRE are to develop transcriptome-level technologies for mapping of RNA modifications (i) at single-base resolution, (ii) with quantitative assessment of modification stoichiometry at each site, and (iii) with high sensitivities to study rare cell populations. These methods will be applied to investigate the biology of neurogenesis and neurodevelopment. We will accomplish these goals by using chemical and enzymatic methods to convert each chemical type of modified nucleotide into signatures that can be identified and quantified using high-throughput sequencing approaches. Ultimately, we aim to expand our approaches to all known chemical types of modifications in mammals with applications ranging from basic biological research to clinical investigations of RNA modifications as diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets.


The Center for dynamic RNA epitranscriptomes aims to develop high-throughput, high-resolution, and high-sensitivity technologies for functional investigations of RNA modifications in the whole transcriptome.

The Center for Dynamic RNA Epitranscriptomes is a Center of Excellence in Genomic Science (CEGS), a program established by the National Human Genome Research Institute for multi-investigator, interdisciplinary research that develops novel and highly innovative genomic research projects.