RNA Biology in Health and Disease

RNA Biology in Health and Disease Research Group

Research Group Head

The RNA Biology in Health and Disease Laboratory investigates gene regulation via RNA processing.  In particular, we investigate how RNA binding proteins tune the gene expression through their interactions with both coding and non-coding RNAs. By understanding the underlying mechanisms of RNA regulation, we will gain critical insights into how aberrations in the RNA machinery result in genetic disorders and cancer.

Research focus – functional significance of RNA-protein interactions

Although DNA contains the genetic code, the RNAs produced from the DNA template bring the genome to life. Newly transcribed RNAs are not functional, but need to undergo tightly regulated RNA processing steps such as pre-mRNA splicing and polyadenylation. Thus, RNA processing is a critical regulatory point in gene expression and aberrations in the machinery lead to genetic disorders and are linked to cancer. RNA shows great promise as a therapeutic and biomarker, but a more detailed knowledge of RNA regulation in vivo is urgently needed for the development of future therapies. The molecular mechanisms that bring about specific cellular RNA repertoires and drastic RNA aberrations in disease are poorly understood. It is clear that RNA binding proteins (RBPs) play a critical role by delicately controlling the life of all coding and noncoding RNAs. Our work focuses on investigating how RNA binding proteins regulate gene expression through RNA processing in specific tissues and in disease. By linking molecular level events to cellular functions, we have started deciphering the RNA code of different cell types, which has major implications to human health and disease.

Current projects

RNA regulation in pluripotent and adult stem cells

RNA binding proteins in developmental defects and cancer

RNA biology of blood cells– what makes blood cells vulnerable to RNA processing defects

If you have an interest in RNA, the other nucleic acid, and would like to join our quest for cracking the RNA code, either by working at the lab bench or at the computer, please contact the Research Group Head | e:  minni.anko@hudson.org.au.

Research Group

Selected publications

  • Legrand JMD, Chan A-L, Hue M, Rossello FJ, Anko M-L, Fuller-Pace FV and Hobbs RM (2019) DDX5 plays essential transcriptional and post-transcriptional roles in the maintenance and function of spermatogonia.  Nature Communications 10:  2278.