Alice Fulton, PhD

​Alice Fulton, PhDContact Information

Address: 51 Newton Road, 4-403 BSB
Iowa City, IA 52242 Email:


Muscle in culture has provided a powerful system to examine many aspects of cell and molecular biology. One of the first tissues to be differentiated in culture, muscle has provided insight into gene regulation, cytoskeletal organization and function, signal transduction, and tissue integration. Our own studies initially focussed on muscle as a model for the organization of the cytoskeleton and the role that the localization of mRNA in assembly of cytoskeletal proteins. Those studies revealed submicron precision of mRNA position in muscle cells, which was itself under developmental control, message specific and modulated over time.

Our basic research on factors that influence elongation by RNA polymerase II also uncovered the first RNA polymerase II termination factor, TTF2. Current results indicate that this factor plays a role in mitotic repression of transcription elongation and, perhaps, DNA repair. We have developed new in vitro assays to study the mechanistic details of the interaction of RNA processing machinery with the transcription complex. Overall, we use biochemical, molecular and cellular techniques to advance our understanding of the control of RNA polymerase II elongation and how that process influences RNA processing, HIV replication and cancer growth.

In the course of investigating the mechanisms of cytoskeletal assembly and mRNA localization, we discovered that the 3' UTR of skeletal tropomyosin contains sequences that induce embryonic fibroblast to differentiate into muscle. Osteoblasts respond to these 3' UTR sequences less fully. We have mapped the effective sequences and are pursuing the ligands that interact with these sequences. We are identifying the cellular constraints on response to this 3' UTR. Potential clinical applications include therapy for muscular dystrophy and repair of damage after cardiac infarct.