Honors & Awards

  • “Xizhi” Education Foundation Scholarship, “Xizhi” Education Foundation (2008)
  • “Triple Excellent” Student of University, China Agricultural University (2009 - 2011)
  • Chancellor Scholarship and National Scholarship, China Agricultural University (2010)
  • Stanford Graduate Fellow, Stanford University (2011 - 2014)

Education & Certifications

  • Bachelor of Science, China Agricultural University, Biochemistry and Molecular Bio (2011)

Stanford Advisors

  • Rhiju Das, Doctoral Dissertation Advisor (AC)


All Publications

  • RNA structure through multidimensional chemical mapping QUARTERLY REVIEWS OF BIOPHYSICS Tian, S., Das, R. 2016; 49


    The discoveries of myriad non-coding RNA molecules, each transiting through multiple flexible states in cells or virions, present major challenges for structure determination. Advances in high-throughput chemical mapping give new routes for characterizing entire transcriptomes in vivo, but the resulting one-dimensional data generally remain too information-poor to allow accurate de novo structure determination. Multidimensional chemical mapping (MCM) methods seek to address this challenge. Mutate-and-map (M2), RNA interaction groups by mutational profiling (RING-MaP and MaP-2D analysis) and multiplexed •OH cleavage analysis (MOHCA) measure how the chemical reactivities of every nucleotide in an RNA molecule change in response to modifications at every other nucleotide. A growing body of in vitro blind tests and compensatory mutation/rescue experiments indicate that MCM methods give consistently accurate secondary structures and global tertiary structures for ribozymes, ribosomal domains and ligand-bound riboswitch aptamers up to 200 nucleotides in length. Importantly, MCM analyses provide detailed information on structurally heterogeneous RNA states, such as ligand-free riboswitches that are functionally important but difficult to resolve with other approaches. The sequencing requirements of currently available MCM protocols scale at least quadratically with RNA length, precluding general application to transcriptomes or viral genomes at present. We propose a modify-cross-link-map (MXM) expansion to overcome this and other current limitations to resolving the in vivo 'RNA structurome'.

    View details for DOI 10.1017/S0033583516000020

    View details for Web of Science ID 000375229800001

    View details for PubMedID 27266715

  • Automated band annotation for RNA structure probing experiments with numerous capillary electrophoresis profiles. Bioinformatics Lee, S., Kim, H., Tian, S., Lee, T., Yoon, S., Das, R. 2015; 31 (17): 2808-2815


    Capillary electrophoresis (CE) is a powerful approach for structural analysis of nucleic acids, with recent high-throughput variants enabling three-dimensional RNA modeling and the discovery of new rules for RNA structure design. Among the steps composing CE analysis, the process of finding each band in an electrophoretic trace and mapping it to a position in the nucleic acid sequence has required significant manual inspection and remains the most time-consuming and error-prone step. The few available tools seeking to automate this band annotation have achieved limited accuracy and have not taken advantage of information across dozens of profiles routinely acquired in high-throughput measurements.We present a dynamic-programming-based approach to automate band annotation for high-throughput capillary electrophoresis. The approach is uniquely able to define and optimize a robust target function that takes into account multiple CE profiles (sequencing ladders, different chemical probes, different mutants) collected for the RNA. Over a large benchmark of multi-profile datasets for biological RNAs and designed RNAs from the EteRNA project, the method outperforms prior tools (QuSHAPE and FAST) significantly in terms of accuracy compared with gold-standard manual annotations. The amount of computation required is reasonable at a few seconds per dataset. We also introduce an 'E-score' metric to automatically assess the reliability of the band annotation and show it to be practically useful in flagging uncertainties in band annotation for further inspection.The implementation of the proposed algorithm is included in the HiTRACE software, freely available as an online server and for download at or rhiju@stanford.eduSupplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/bioinformatics/btv282

    View details for PubMedID 25943472

  • Primerize: automated primer assembly for transcribing non-coding RNA domains NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH Tian, S., Yesselman, J. D., Cordero, P., Das, R. 2015; 43 (W1): W522-W526

    View details for DOI 10.1093/nar/gkv538

    View details for Web of Science ID 000359772700083

  • Consistent global structures of complex RNA states through multidimensional chemical mapping ELIFE Cheng, C. Y., Chou, F., Kladwang, W., Tian, S., Cordero, P., Das, R. 2015; 4
  • RNA-Puzzles Round II: assessment of RNA structure prediction programs applied to three large RNA structures RNA Miao, Z., Adamiak, R. W., Blanchet, M., Boniecki, M., Bujnicki, J. M., Chen, S., Cheng, C., Chojnowski, G., Chou, F., Cordero, P., Cruz, J. A., Ferre-D'Amare, A. R., Das, R., Ding, F., Dokholyan, N. V., Dunin-Horkawicz, S., Kladwang, W., Krokhotin, A., Lach, G., Magnus, M., Major, F., Mann, T. H., Masquida, B., Matelska, D., Meyer, M., Peselis, A., Popenda, M., Purzycka, K. J., Serganov, A., Stasiewicz, J., Szachniuk, M., Tandon, A., Tian, S., Wang, J., Xia, Y., Xu, X., Zhang, J., Zha, P., Zok, T., Westhof, E. 2015; 21 (6): 1066-1084


    This paper is a report of a second round of RNA-Puzzles, a collective and blind experiment in three-dimensional (3D) RNA structure prediction. Three puzzles, Puzzles 5, 6, and 10, represented sequences of three large RNA structures with limited or no homology with previously solved RNA molecules. A lariat-capping ribozyme, as well as riboswitches complexed to adenosylcobalamin and tRNA, were predicted by seven groups using RNAComposer, ModeRNA/SimRNA, Vfold, Rosetta, DMD, MC-Fold, 3dRNA, and AMBER refinement. Some groups derived models using data from state-of-the-art chemical-mapping methods (SHAPE, DMS, CMCT, and mutate-and-map). The comparisons between the predictions and the three subsequently released crystallographic structures, solved at diffraction resolutions of 2.5-3.2 Å, were carried out automatically using various sets of quality indicators. The comparisons clearly demonstrate the state of present-day de novo prediction abilities as well as the limitations of these state-of-the-art methods. All of the best prediction models have similar topologies to the native structures, which suggests that computational methods for RNA structure prediction can already provide useful structural information for biological problems. However, the prediction accuracy for non-Watson-Crick interactions, key to proper folding of RNAs, is low and some predicted models had high Clash Scores. These two difficulties point to some of the continuing bottlenecks in RNA structure prediction. All submitted models are available for download at

    View details for DOI 10.1261/rna.049502.114

    View details for Web of Science ID 000356316200002

  • RNA regulons in Hox 5' UTRs confer ribosome specificity to gene regulation. Nature Xue, S., Tian, S., Fujii, K., Kladwang, W., Das, R., Barna, M. 2015; 517 (7532): 33-38


    Emerging evidence suggests that the ribosome has a regulatory function in directing how the genome is translated in time and space. However, how this regulation is encoded in the messenger RNA sequence remains largely unknown. Here we uncover unique RNA regulons embedded in homeobox (Hox) 5' untranslated regions (UTRs) that confer ribosome-mediated control of gene expression. These structured RNA elements, resembling viral internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs), are found in subsets of Hox mRNAs. They facilitate ribosome recruitment and require the ribosomal protein RPL38 for their activity. Despite numerous layers of Hox gene regulation, these IRES elements are essential for converting Hox transcripts into proteins to pattern the mammalian body plan. This specialized mode of IRES-dependent translation is enabled by an additional regulatory element that we term the translation inhibitory element (TIE), which blocks cap-dependent translation of transcripts. Together, these data uncover a new paradigm for ribosome-mediated control of gene expression and organismal development.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature14010

    View details for PubMedID 25409156

  • High-throughput mutate-map-rescue evaluates SHAPE-directed RNA structure and uncovers excited states. RNA (New York, N.Y.) Tian, S., Cordero, P., Kladwang, W., Das, R. 2014; 20 (11): 1815-1826


    The three-dimensional conformations of noncoding RNAs underpin their biochemical functions but have largely eluded experimental characterization. Here, we report that integrating a classic mutation/rescue strategy with high-throughput chemical mapping enables rapid RNA structure inference with unusually strong validation. We revisit a 16S rRNA domain for which SHAPE (selective 2'-hydroxyl acylation with primer extension) and limited mutational analysis suggested a conformational change between apo- and holo-ribosome conformations. Computational support estimates, data from alternative chemical probes, and mutate-and-map (M(2)) experiments highlight issues of prior methodology and instead give a near-crystallographic secondary structure. Systematic interrogation of single base pairs via a high-throughput mutation/rescue approach then permits incisive validation and refinement of the M(2)-based secondary structure. The data further uncover the functional conformation as an excited state (20 ± 10% population) accessible via a single-nucleotide register shift. These results correct an erroneous SHAPE inference of a ribosomal conformational change, expose critical limitations of conventional structure mapping methods, and illustrate practical steps for more incisively dissecting RNA dynamic structure landscapes.

    View details for DOI 10.1261/rna.044321.114

    View details for PubMedID 25183835

  • Standardization of RNA Chemical Mapping Experiments BIOCHEMISTRY Kladwang, W., Mann, T. H., Becka, A., Tian, S., Kim, H., Yoon, S., Das, R. 2014; 53 (19): 3063-3065


    Chemical mapping experiments offer powerful information about RNA structure but currently involve ad hoc assumptions in data processing. We show that simple dilutions, referencing standards (GAGUA hairpins), and HiTRACE/MAPseeker analysis allow rigorous overmodification correction, background subtraction, and normalization for electrophoretic data and a ligation bias correction needed for accurate deep sequencing data. Comparisons across six noncoding RNAs stringently test the proposed standardization of dimethyl sulfate (DMS), 2'-OH acylation (SHAPE), and carbodiimide measurements. Identification of new signatures for extrahelical bulges and DMS "hot spot" pockets (including tRNA A58, methylated in vivo) illustrates the utility and necessity of standardization for quantitative RNA mapping.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/bi5003426

    View details for Web of Science ID 000336413700001

  • The glutamate carboxypeptidase AMP1 mediates abscisic acid and abiotic stress responses in Arabidopsis. New phytologist Shi, Y., Wang, Z., Meng, P., Tian, S., Zhang, X., Yang, S. 2013; 199 (1): 135-150


    ALTERED MERISTEM PROGRAM1 (AMP1) encodes a glutamate carboxypeptidase that plays an important role in shoot apical meristem development and phytohormone homeostasis. We isolated a new mutant allele of AMP1, amp1-20, from a screen for abscisic acid (ABA) hypersensitive mutants and characterized the function of AMP1 in plant stress responses. amp1 mutants displayed ABA hypersensitivity, while overexpression of AMP1 caused ABA insensitivity. Moreover, endogenous ABA concentration was increased in amp1-20- and decreased in AMP1-overexpressing plants under stress conditions. Application of ABA reduced the AMP1 protein level in plants. Interestingly, amp1 mutants accumulated excess superoxide and displayed hypersensitivity to oxidative stress. The hypersensitivity of amp1 to ABA and oxidative stress was partially rescued by reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging agent. Furthermore, amp1 was tolerant to freezing and drought stress. The ABA hypersensitivity and freezing tolerance of amp1 was dependent on ABA signaling. Moreover, amp1 had elevated soluble sugar content and showed hypersensitivity to high concentrations of sugar. By contrast, the contents of amino acids were changed in amp1 mutant compared to the wild-type. This study suggests that AMP1 modulates ABA, oxidative and abotic stress responses, and is involved in carbon and amino acid metabolism in Arabidopsis.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/nph.12275

    View details for PubMedID 23621575