Sandra L. Wolin, M.D., Ph.D.

Sandra L. Wolin, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Center for Cancer Research
  • National Cancer Institute
  • Building 560, Room 11-82C
  • Frederick, MD 21702-1201
  • 301-846-1237


Sandra Wolin studies the biogenesis, function and turnover of RNA molecules. Her laboratory has identified proteins that recognize misfolded and otherwise defective RNAs. By studying a bacterial ortholog of one such protein, the ring-shaped Ro60 autoantigen, they discovered that this protein is tethered by noncoding “Y RNA” to a ring-shaped nuclease, forming a double-ringed ribonucleoprotein machine specialized for structured RNA degradation. The laboratory is characterizing this new RNA degradation machine, identifying additional roles for Ro60 and Y RNAs in both human cells and bacteria, and uncovering other pathways by which defective and damaged RNAs are recognized and degraded. Her laboratory is also investigating how failure to degrade these RNAs contributes to human disease.

Areas of Expertise

1) noncoding RNAs and their functions, 2) RNA surveillance pathways, 3) RNA-binding proteins, 4) RNA damage, 5) autoimmune disease, 6) autoantigens


Selected Recent Publications

The Autoantigen Repertoire and the Microbial RNP World

Williams SG, Wolin SL
Trends in Molecular Medicine. 27: 422-435, 2021.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

An RNA Repair Operon Regulated by Damaged tRNAs

Hughes KJ, Chen X, Burroughs AM, Aravind L, Wolin SL
Cell Reports. 33: 108527, 2020.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Noncoding Y RNAs Regulate the Levels, Subcellular Distribution and Protein Interactions of their Ro60 Autoantigen Partner

Leng Y, Sim S, Magidson V and Wolin SL
Nucleic Acids Research. 48: 6919-6930, 2020. [ Journal Article ]

Cellular RNA Surveillance in Health and Disease

Wolin SL, Maquat LE
Science. 366: 822-827, 2019. [ Journal Article ]

The RNA Exosome Nuclease Complex Regulates Human Embryonic Stem Cell Differentiation

Belair C, Sim S, Kim KY, Tanaka Y, Park IH, Wolin, SL
Journal of Cell Biology. 218: 2564-2582, 2019. [ Journal Article ]

Job Vacancies

Position Degree Required Contact Name Contact Email
Senior Investigator/Tenure-Track Investigator - RNA biology Ph.D. or equivalent, M.D. or equivalent Patrick Miller


Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)
Ruchika Narendra Bhujbalrao, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow (CRTA)
Marco E. Boccitto, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
Yuanyuan Leng, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)
Hyeyeon Nam, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist
Soyeong Sim, Ph.D.
Postbaccalaureate Fellow (UGSP)
Mary Soliman
Adjunct Investigator
Sandra G. Williams, M.D., Ph.D.


Science Translational Medicine cover March 2018

Commensal orthologs of the human autoantigen Ro60 as triggers of autoimmunity in lupus

Published Date

Lupus: No Longer a Lone Wolf. Lupus (represented by the wolf, Canis lupus) is a chronic autoimmune disorder that progresses over decades. Greiling et al. analyzed commensal bacteria in lupus patients and identified species with Ro60 proteins similar to human Ro60, an early autoantigen in lupus. Bacterial Ro60 could activate patient lymphocytes, and colonization of mice with the bacterium instigated lupus-like symptoms. These results suggest that immune recognition of a bacterial protein leads to cross-reactive immune cells targeting the human version, thereby initiating lupus.


Greiling et al., Science Translational Medicine, Vol 10, Issue 434, 28 March 2018: Vol 10, Issue 434