School of Veterinary Medicine and Science


Image of Aditi Borkar

Aditi Borkar

Assistant Professor in Molecular Biochemistry & Biophysics, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences



I completed my PhD from University of Cambridge in Biophysical Chemistry in 2014 and continued as a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow between University of Cambridge, UK; University of Bonn, Germany and Yale University, USA. During this appointment, I have been independently leading my international research programme with leading experts in RNA-protein biochemistry and structural biology. I came to University of Nottingham as an Anne McLaren Fellow in 2019 and, since Nov 2023, I have been appointed as Assistant Professor in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics. At Nottingham, I have pioneered the study of structure and dynamics of RNP complexes using integrative structural biology approaches and have contributed towards development of new Research Ecosystems focussed on structural investigations of functionally important RNA-protein systems in health and diseases.

Expertise Summary

My research primarily delves into exploring the 3D structure and molecular dynamics of RNAs and their relevance to cellular health and disease. While our main focus is on HIV pathogenesis as a model, our projects also encompass other RNA viruses like Arenaviruses and RNA misfolding diseases such as Muscular Dystrophy. We employ a range of techniques, including integrated biophysics, cryo-Electron Microscopy, Mass Spectroscopy, and computer simulations, and often engage in innovative method development for RNA structure analysis.

Research Summary

As a Anne McLaren Fellow, I am keen on understanding the impact of host-pathogen ncRNP complexes on HIV pathogenesis and have a long-term vision to construct a high-resolution, dynamic… read more

Recent Publications

Current Research

As a Anne McLaren Fellow, I am keen on understanding the impact of host-pathogen ncRNP complexes on HIV pathogenesis and have a long-term vision to construct a high-resolution, dynamic structure-function interactome of regulatory RNAs to aid global health challenges. Specifically, I will use an integrated structural biology approach to investigate the role of the biochemically well characterised HIV TAR RNA element and Tat protein in transcription activation and translation initiation of HIV mRNA by determining high-resolution structures of the Transactivation Complex, the 7SK RNP Complex and the Pre-Initiation Complex.

Past Research

My research interests lie in understanding the role of non-coding, regulatory RNAs and their complexes in cellular health and disease progression, particularly during HIV infection. Towards this, I have developed a niche in combining experimental biochemical techniques and theoretical biophysics to characterise the structure, dynamics and function of RNA-protein complexes at atomic resolution.During my doctoral work with Professor Michele Vendruscolo and Professor Chris Dobson at University of Camrbridge, UK, I combined NMR spectroscopy with Molecular Dynamics simulations to determine the first high-resolution structure of an intermediate state populated during HIV TAR:Tat RNP recognition. Next, as a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow with Professors Matthais Geyer (University of Bonn, Germany) and Tom Steitz (Yale University USA; 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovery of the structure of the ribosome), I investigated the interactions of this RNP complex with human proteins using a combination of experimental biochemistry and theoretical biophysics techniques. I also developed a novel technique called 'RHyTEM' for solid phase enrichment of native RNP complexes directly suited for transmission electron microscopy to allow structure determination of such challenging systems.

Future Research

Recently, many cellular ncRNAs have been identified that contribute significantly to the HIV virus-host interplay in humans. For example, NRON targets Tat for proteasomal degradation and thus regulates HIV latency. However, such native complexes are typically large, multi-subunit, dynamic and short-lived systems and thus are not directly amenable for conventional structure determination methods. To address this challenge, I recently developed the 'RHyTEM' technique (currently exploring Intellectual Property Rights protection and commercialization) that allows solid phase enrichment of native RNP complexes from cell lysates directly suited for single particle EM. Thus, my first goal after the NRF would be to use RHyTEM for both well-characterised and novel players in HIV pathogenesis and build their interactome to gain new structure-function insights. This study will be the first step towards constructing a comprehensive, high-resolution structural interactome of RNP complexes involved in HIV pathogenesis. Next, I am also keen on extending this approach towards other (re-)emerging infectious diseases, such as Zika and Ebola, to identify common links underlying viral pathogenesis and further towards diseases with high global burden, such as neurodegeneration and cancer, to understand their molecular physiology and open novel avenues for development of diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive strategies. Towards this, during the course of the fellowship, I also plan to initiate collaborations with local, national and international experts on transcriptomics and cell biology of infection and cell malfunction

School of Veterinary Medicine and Science

University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Leicestershire, LE12 5RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 6116
fax: +44 (0)115 951 6415