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Elizabeth Tran


  • Associate Professor of Biochemistry
BCHM Room 343B

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Tran Lab


Elizabeth Tran earned her PhD in biochemistry at North Carolina State University where she developed an in vitro assembly and methylation system for trans acting box C/D snoRNAs. She then pursued postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Susan Wente at Vanderbilt University, where she identified the role of the RNA helicase Dbp5 in nuclear mRNA export.  She joined the faculty at Purdue University in 2009, where she explores the biochemical mechanism and biological function of DEAD-box RNA helicases, a class of enzymes that are required for all aspects of RNA metabolism but whose in vivo roles are yet to be identified. Her laboratory is most well known for studies of the DEAD-box RNA helicase Dbp2 in S. cerevisiae and insights into the roles of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in gene expression (Fig. 1). These insights span the fields of RNA biology, epigenetics, and metabolism. Moreover, the scientific community has highlighted her work for pivotal, paradigm shifting advances in lncRNA biology (Best of JBC 2012, Nature highlight, Science Signaling highlight). Her long-term goal is to understand the connection between RNA structure, gene regulation, and cellular adaptation in relationship to organismal survival and human pathology. In addition to research, Dr. Tran is a strong supporter of the international scientific community and mentoring the next generation of scientists.  She is currently serving a two year term as a Director on the Board of the RNA Society, an international organization with ~1000 members worldwide.


Selected Publications

Ma, W. K., Paudel, B. P., Xing, Z., Sabath, I. G., Rueda, D., & Tran, E. (2016). Recruitment, Duplex Unwinding and Protein-Mediated Inhibition of the Dead-Box RNA Helicase Dbp2 at Actively Transcribed Chromatin. Journal of Molecular Biology, 428(6), 1091-106. doi:10.1016/j.jmb.2016.02.005

Ma, W., & Tran, E. (2015). Measuring helicase inhibition of the DEAD-box protein Dbp2 by Yra1. In RNA Remodeling Proteins: Methods and Protocols (1259, 183-197). Springer New York. Retrieved from

Beck, Z., Cloutier, S., Schipma, M., Patell, C., Ma, W., & Tran, E. (2014). Regulation of glucose-dependent gene expression by the RNA helicase Dbp2 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Genetics, 198, 1001-1014. Retrieved from

Tran, E., King, M. C., & Corbett, A. H. (2014). Macromolecular transport between the nucleus and the cytoplasm: Advances in mechanism and emerging links to disease. Biochimica et biophysica acta, 1843(11), 2784-2795. doi:10.1016/j.bbamcr.2014.08.003

Cloutier, S., Wang, S., Ma, W., Petell, C., & Tran, E. (2013). Long noncoding RNAs promote transcriptional poising of inducible genes. PLoS Biol, 11, e1001715. Retrieved from

Ma, W., Cloutier, S., & Tran, E. (2013). The DEAD-box protein Dbp2 functions with the RNA-binding protein Yra1 to promote mRNP assembly. J. Mol. Biol, 425, 3824-3838. Retrieved from

Cloutier, S., Ma, W., & Nguyen, L. (2012). The DEAD-box RNA helicase Dbp2 connects RNA quality control with repression of aberrant transcription. J. Biol. Chem, 287, 26155-26166. Retrieved from

Hodge, C., Noble, K., Alcazar-Roman, A., Ben-Yishay, R., Scarcelli, J., Folkmann, A., . . . Cole, C. (2011). The Dbp5 cycle at the nuclear pore complex during mRNA export I: dbp5 mutants with defects in RNA binding and ATP hydrolysis define key steps for Nup159 and Gle1. Genes Dev, 25, 1052-1064. Retrieved from

Awards & Honors

(2018) 2018 Showalter Faculty Scholar. Purdue University.

(2019) Lifetime of Outstanding Service. International RNA Society.

(2011) Seed for Success. Purdue University.

(2010) Outstanding Alumnus. College Of Agriculture, North Carolina State University.

(2009) Oustanding Postdoctoral Fellow of the Year Award. Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology.

(2006) Appointed Postdoctoral Representative. The RNA Society.

(2003) Anne A. J. Work Award for Outstanding Graduate Research. NC State University.

(2003) Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society. NC State University.

(1997) Magna cum Laude. Texas A&M University.

Department of Biochemistry, 175 South University Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2063 USA, (765) 494-1600

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