My research is focused on understanding the role of non-coding RNAs and RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) in neuronal development, substance abuse, and cancer. Small non-coding RNAs, such as microRNAs (miRNAs), and RBPs post-transcriptionally control the expression of a vast number of neuronal genes through the regulation mRNA splicing, stability, localization, and translation. Many miRNAs and RBPs are therefore considered to be master regulators of gene expression. Much of my work has concentrated on defining the regulatory regions and mechanisms that direct these processes. Current projects in my lab involve uncovering novel mechanisms of small RNA-mediated regulation of gene expression, examining miRNA-mediated pathways during cortical vascular development, and investigating the role of both small and long non-coding RNAs in glioblastoma multiforme.
1. miR-150 is a well-characterized miRNA that is expressed in the brain, and specifically in endothelial cells, during development. miR-150 is a known regulator of angiogenesis, and it is upregulated in the developing cortex in our model of prenatal alcohol exposure. We are working to identify angiogenic targets of miR-150 and to determine its effect on the developing cortical vasculature during prenatal alcohol exposure.
2. KSRP is an RBP whose expression is significantly associated with prolonged survival of glioblastoma patients. We have identified novel KSRP-regulated miRNA and long non-coding RNA targets in the cortex. Ongoing studies are aimed at understanding how KSRP interacts with and regulates its various targets in glioblastoma cells and elucidating its tumor suppressive effect in a genetically engineered mouse model of glioblastoma.