Luc Jaeger

Joint Appt: BMSE

Office Hours

Tuesday (2:30-4pm, PSBN 4649A)

Contact Phone

(805) 893-3628

Office Location

4649A PSB-N



Dr. Jaeger received a "Magistère" degree (M.S) in Chemistry and Biology from the University Louis Pasteur of Strasbourg in 1990, and his PhD in Structural Biochemistry and Biophysics from the same university in 1993. After postdoctoral studies at the Scripps Research Institute (La Jolla, CA), he worked as a CNRS research scientist at the "Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire" in Strasbourg, from 1995 to 2002. He joined the faculty at UCSB in 2002 and received tenure in 2008.


Research Objective

Considering the fact that up to 90 percent of the human genome is transcribed into RNA, it becomes clear that RNA is one of the most important biopolymers on which life is based. While RNA molecules can serve as transient copies of genes coding for proteins, they can also act as catalytic RNAs (ribozymes) or regulatory elements. Clearly, many more cellular functions based on RNA remain to be discovered but it is already apparent that RNA is involved in a huge number of key processes that are related to health issues as well as the evolution of life on Earth.

For the past years, Jaeger's lab has undertaken a major effort to characterize self-autonomous folding and assembly properties of various RNA structural motifs found in natural RNA molecules such as the ribosome, ribozymes and riboswitches. Several new RNA structural and assembly principles for RNA 3D structure prediction and rational design have been uncovered and used to develop innovative and novel strategies for controlling the self-assembly and organization of RNA molecules at a nanoscale level with exquisite degree of precision. Jaeger's lab research combines a broad range of theoretical and experimental approaches at the interfaces of Chemistry, Biology, and Physics with implications in areas as diverse as Synthetic Biology, Nanobiotechnology, Nanomedicine, Biomaterial Sciences, Complex System Sciences, Astrobiology and Evolutionary Biology.

At a fundamental level, present subjects of interest include the understanding of the logic of RNA three-dimensional assembly for RNA 3D prediction and rational design, the understanding of RNA structural evolution and more generally, the understanding of the processes leading to the emergence of complexity in biological systems. At a more applied level, Jaeger's laboratory has emerged as one of the leading laboratories in RNA nanotechnology with a particular emphasis on the development of new RNA-based strategies for potentially treating cancer and other diseases.

  • Deciphering the RNA folding and assembly problem for improving RNA tertiary structure design and prediction
  • In vitro and in vivo evolution of novel RNA-based cellular functions for investigating problems related to the emergence of complexity in living systems
  • Development of new strategies for controlled self-assembly of functional RNAs in vitro and in vivo
  • Development of RNA-based systems to deliver silencing RNAs and therapeutic RNA aptamers to target cancer and other diseases
  • Development of RNA-based nano-factories for Synthetic Biology and Nano-medicine


Selected Research Publications

Grabow, W., Zakrevsky, P., Afonin, K., Chworos, A., Shapiro, B.A. & Jaeger, L. (2011) Self-assembling RNA nanorings based on RNAI/II inverse kissing complexes. Nanoletters, in press.

Afonin , K., Bindewald, E., Yaghoubian, A.J., Voss, N., Jacovetti , E., Shapiro, B.A. & Jaeger, L. (2010) In vitro assembly of cubic RNA-based scaffolds designed in silico. Nature nanotechnology, 5, 676-682.

Geary, C., Chworos, A. & Jaeger, L. (2010) Promoting RNA helical stacking by A-minor junctions. Nucleic Acid Research, (Published Online 28 Sept. 2010: doi:10.1093/nar/gkq748).

Severcan, I., Geary, C., Chworos, A., Voss, N., Jacovetti, E. & Jaeger, L. (2010) A polyhedron made of tRNAs. Nature Chemistry, 2, 772-779.

Hess, H. & Jaeger, L (2010) Nanobiotechnology. Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 21, 373-375.

Neumann, T, Gajria, S., Bouxsein N. F., Jaeger, L. & Tirrell, M. (2010) Structural responses of DNA-DDAB films to varying hydration and temperature. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 132, 7025-7037.

Severcan, I., Geary, C., Verzemnieks, E., Chworos, A. & Jaeger, L. (2009) Square-shaped particles from different RNA folds, Nanoletters, 9, 1270-1277 (Published Online 2/24/09).

Jaeger, L., Verzemieks, E. & Geary, C. (2009) The UA-handle: a versatile submotif in stable RNA architecture. Nucleic Acid Research, 37, 215-230 (Published Online Nov. 2008:  doi:10.1093/nar/gkn911).

Auletta, G., Ellis, G, RSF, & Jaeger, L. (2008) Top-Down Causation by Information Control: From a Philosophical Problem to a Scientific Research Programme. J. R. Soc. Interface, 5, 1159-1172.

Geary, C., Baudrey, S. & Jaeger, L. (2008) Comprehensive features of natural and in vivo selected GNRA tetraloop binding receptors. Nucleic Acid Research, 36, 1138-1152.

Zhuang, Z., Jaeger, L. & Shea , J.-E. (2007) Probing the structural and energy landscape of a RNA T-loop hairpin.  Nucleic Acid Research, 35, 6995-7002.

Jaeger, L. & Chworos, A. (2006) The Architectonics of Programmable RNA and DNA Nanostructures. Current Opinion in Structural Biology, 16, 531-543.

Chworos, A, Severcan, I., Koyfman, A. Y., Wienkam, P., Oroudjev, E., Hansma, H. G. & Jaeger, L. (2004) Building programmable jigsaw puzzles with RNA. Science 306, 2068-2072.