Principles of RNA dynamics in animal development
Faithful yet dynamic changes in gene expression are key to the generation of different cell types and tissues in an organism as well as to the responses of cells to environmental cues and insults. We are using the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans and cultured cells to uncover mechanisms underlying such dynamics and to understand their dependent processes.
We are particularly interested in two issues:
First, we study microRNAs (miRNAs), a large class of noncoding RNAs that regulate target mRNAs by silencing them. We seek to reveal the mechanisms by which miRNAs act, the mechanisms that regulate the miRNAs themselves, and the developmental and pathological outcomes of miRNA (dys-) regulation.
Second, we investigate oscillatory gene expression in C. elegans, following our stunning discovery that the levels of thousands of transcripts peak periodically every eight hours during larval development. The dramatic changes in expression levels seen with RNA extracted from whole worms indicate that gene expression must be extensively coordinated across cells and, likely, tissues. Hence, we consider periodic gene expression in C. elegans larvae as a new paradigm of oscillatory gene expression in animal development and as a model to uncover mechanisms that facilitate exquisite coordination of regulated gene expression.
FMI report pages for Helge Grosshans