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Integrative Structural and Computational Biology

Katrin Karbstein, PhD

Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology
Florida Campus
Laboratory Website
(561) 228-3210

Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
Faculty, Graduate Program

Other Joint Appointments

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) - Faculty Scholar

Research Focus

Unraveling Ribosome Assembly

Ribosomes are large macromolecular machines that catalyze protein synthesis in all cells. In eukaryotic cells ribosome assembly requires a macromolecular machinery of >170 proteins and >70 RNAs. While we know that this machinery is absolutely essential for life, we have little understanding of the function of the individual players. To shed light on the function of these assembly factors, we use a combination of approaches – including biochemistry, mechanistic enzymology, yeast genetics, structural biology, and protein engineering. We have focused on assembly of the 40S subunit and have developed a recombinant system that recapitulates the final steps in assembly. This system now allows us to uncover new steps and dissect the role of individual proteins in these steps. Our ultimate goal is to understand the function of assembly factors, the order of events as well as the rationale for this order, aiming to delineate general principles important for the assembly of large RNA-protein complexes.


Diploma, Biochemistry, Witten/Herdecke University, 1998
Ph.D., Biochemistry, Stanford University, 2003
Diploma, Chemistry, Ruhr University Bochum, 1995

Professional Experience

Ph.D., Stanford University, Daniel Herschlag
Postdoctoral work, UC Berkeley, Jennifer Doudna

Awards & Professional Activities

University of Michigan, Department of Chemistry Seyhan Ege Professorship (2009) NSF CAREER Award (2009) University of Michigan, Biological Sciences Scholar Award (2006)

Selected References

Rai, J.*, Parker, M.P.*, Huang, H., Choy, S., Ghalei, H., Johnson, M.C., Karbstein, K. & Stroupe, M.E. (submitted) Subunit joining exposes nascent pre-40S rRNA for processing and quality control. bioRxiv, doi:

Parker, M.P., Collins, J.C., Korona, B., Ghalei, H & Karbstein, K. (2019) A kinase-dependent checkpoint prevents escape of immature ribosomes into the translating pool. PLoS Biology 17(12):e3000329. PMID:31834877

Yin, Z., Liu, X., Jin, M, Ariosa, A., Huang, H., Karbstein, K. & Klionsky, D. (2019) Psp2, a novel regulator of autophagy that promotes autophagy-related protein translation. Cell Research; PMID: 31666677

Karbstein, K. (2019) Mitochondria teach ribosome assembly. Science 365(6458),1077-78. PMID: 31515371

Khoshnevis, S., Dattolo, M.D. & Karbstein, K. (2019) Rrp5 Establishes a Checkpoint for 60S Assembly During 40S Maturation to Ensure Balanced Levels of Ribosomal Subunits for Translational Control. RNA 25(9)1164-1176. PMID: 31217256.

Ferretti, M.B. & Karbstein, K. (2019) Does Functional Specialization of Ribosomes Really Exist? RNA 25, 521-538. PMID:30733326

Karbstein, K. (2018) Responsible Peer Review. ACS Chemical Biology 13(12)3217-18. PMID: 30993984

Collins, J.C.*, Ghalei, H.*, Doherty, J.R., Culver, R.N. & Karbstein, K. (2018) Quality Control During Small Ribosomal Subunit Maturation: Ltv1 Chaperones Assembly of the Head. J Cell Biol. 217(12): 4141-4154. PMID: 30348748

Ferretti, M.B., Barre, J.L. & Karbstein, K. (2018) Translational Reprogramming Provides a Blueprint for Cellular Adaptation. Cell Chem. Biol. 25(11)1372-79. PMID: 3017431

Young, C.L., Khoshnevis, S., and Karbstein, K. (2013). Co-factor dependent specificity of a DEAD-box protein. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110, E2668-2676.

Strunk, B.S., Novak, M.N., Young, C.L. and Karbstein, K. (2012). Joining of 60S subunits and a translation-like cycle in 40S ribosome maturation. Cell 150(1):111-21.

Strunk, B.S., Loucks, C.E., Su, M., Vashtish, H., Cheng, S., Schilling, J., Brooks, C.L. III Karbstein, K.# and Skiniotis, G.# (2011) Ribosome Assembly Factors Prevent Premature Translation Initiation by 40S Assembly Intermediates. Science 333(6048), 1449-53. # corresponding authors

Lamanna, A.C. and Karbstein, K.(2009). Nob1 uses its PIN domain to bind cleavage site D at the 3'-end of 18S rRNA. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106, 14259-14264.