864-889-0519 chg@clemson.edu

Assistant Professor, Department of Genetics and Biochemistry

Visit the Lackey Lab

Email: lelal@clemson.edu


Dr. Lela Lackey

Dr. Lela Lackey

I completed my B.S. and B.A. in Biochemistry and Chemistry at North Carolina State University in 2005. While at North Carolina State, I researched small nucleolar RNAs in Dr. E.S. Maxwell’s laboratory. After graduating, I joined Peace Corps South Africa and served as an Education Volunteer for three rural primary schools for two years. Upon returning to the USA, I attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where I studied the APOBEC/AID family of cytosine deaminases and their role in viral restriction, cancer development and antibody maturation in Dr. Reuben Harris’s laboratory. I earned my Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the U of M in 2012. I joined the laboratory of Dr. Alain Laederach at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where I learned experimental and computational methods for RNA structure modeling. I joined the Department of Genetics and Biochemistry faculty at Clemson University in 2020. My laboratory is housed at the Center for Human Genetics in Greenwood, SC.


RNA is a foundational molecule of molecular and cellular biology with a predisposition to form flexible structures that impact its regulation. My laboratory studies the structures RNA forms and their impact on processing of messenger RNAs (mRNAs). In alternative splicing, one pre-cursor mRNA has the potential to be spliced into multiple different mature mRNAs by recognizing alternative splice sites around the coding exons and removing different sections of introns. At the splice site, around the exon-intron junction, structured regions influence splice site recognition. A major question in my lab is how structured RNA elements and splicing proteins coordinate to regulate splicing across networks of mRNAs. In addition, many disease-associated variants occur in non-coding regions, such as introns, and may impact the structure and function of splicing elements. Identifying functional structures in pre-cursor mRNAs and variants that can alter their natural form and function is important for understanding alternative splicing and how it contribute to disease. We are also interested in how RNA structure plays a role in other post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms, such as alternative polyadenylation and translational efficiency.


Ortega VE, Li X, O’Neal WK, Lackey L, Ampleford E, Hawkins GA, Grayeski PJ, Laederach A, Barjaktarevic I, Barr RG, Cooper C, Couper D, Han MK, Kanner RE, Kleerup EC, Martinez FJ, Paine R 3rd, Peters SP, Pirozzi C, Rennard SI, Woodruff PG, Hoffman EA, Meyers DA, Bleecker ER; NHLBI Subpopulations and Intermediate Outcomes Measures in COPD Study (SPIROMICS). The Effects of Rare SERPINA1 Variants on Lung Function and Emphysema in SPIROMICS. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2020 Mar 1;201(5):540-554. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201904-0769OC. PMID: 31661293; PMCID: PMC7047460.

Brown WL, Law EK, Argyris PP, Carpenter MA, Levin-Klein R, Ranum AN, Molan AM, Forster CL, Anderson BD, Lackey L, Harris RS. A Rabbit Monoclonal Antibody against the Antiviral and Cancer Genomic DNA Mutating Enzyme APOBEC3B. Antibodies (Basel). 2019 Sep 10;8(3):47. doi: 10.3390/antib8030047. PMID: 31544853; PMCID: PMC6783943.

Linnstaedt SD, Riker KD, Rueckeis CA, Kutchko KM, Lackey L, McCarthy KR, Tsai YH, Parker JS, Kurz MC, Hendry PL, Lewandowski C, Datner E, Pearson C, O’Neil B, Domeier R, Kaushik S, Laederach A, McLean SA. A Functional riboSNitch in the 3′ Untranslated Region of FKBP5 Alters MicroRNA-320a Binding Efficiency and Mediates Vulnerability to Chronic Post-Traumatic Pain. J Neurosci. 2018 Sep 26;38(39):8407-8420. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3458-17.2018. Epub 2018 Aug 27. PMID: 30150364; PMCID: PMC6158694.

Lackey L, Coria A, Woods C, McArthur E, Laederach A. Allele-specific SHAPE- MaP assessment of the effects of somatic variation and protein binding on mRNA structure. RNA. 2018 Apr;24(4):513-528. doi: 10.1261/rna.064469.117. Epub 2018 Jan 9. PMID: 29317542; PMCID: PMC5855952.

Corley M, Solem A, Phillips G, Lackey L, Ziehr B, Vincent HA, Mustoe AM, Ramos SBV, Weeks KM, Moorman NJ, Laederach A. An RNA structure-mediated, posttranscriptional model of human α-1-antitrypsin expression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Nov 21;114(47):E10244-E10253. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1706539114. Epub 2017 Nov 6. PMID: 29109288; PMCID: PMC5703279.

Woods CT, Lackey L, Williams B, Dokholyan NV, Gotz D, Laederach A. Comparative Visualization of the RNA Suboptimal Conformational Ensemble In Vivo. Biophys J. 2017 Jul 25;113(2):290-301. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2017.05.031. Epub 2017 Jun 15. PMID: 28625696; PMCID: PMC5529173.

Lackey L, McArthur E, Laederach A. Increased Transcript Complexity in Genes Associated with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. PLoS One. 2015 Oct 19;10(10):e0140885. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0140885. PMID: 26480348; PMCID: PMC4610675.

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