Our lab currently researches RNA-mediated gene regulation and its role in cell fate decision. The main focus of the lab has been on microRNAs (miRNAs). miRNAs are small non-coding RNAs involved in virtually all functional aspects of higher eukaryotes, including embryonic development, cell differentiation and proliferation, cell death, energy metabolism, and antiviral defense. Because tight control of miRNA levels is critical for normal functioning in cells, the dysregulation of miRNAs is often associated with human diseases such as cancer.
By proposing a model for the biogenesis of miRNAs and by identifying several key factors such as Drosha, we have made major contributions to the current understanding of how miRNAs are created and processed in animal cells. We have also been investigating the function and regulation of miRNAs in cancer and stem cells. These studies may potentially provide new opportunities for cancer treatment and stem cell engineering.
More recently, we have expanded our research topics to other types of RNA-related processes. We are studying RNA modifications, in particular terminal nucleotidyl transfer or tailing. We are also interested in mRNA processing as well as other types of noncoding RNAs. As RNAs are always accompanied by their protein partners in cells, RNA-binding proteins are another major topic in the lab as well.
To investigate post-transcriptional gene regulation, we employ diverse approaches including biochemical, structural and molecular biological methodologies, as well as genetic, proteomic, transcriptomic and computational tools.
What's new on the Lab