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

The life and function of RNA is delicately controlled by RNA binding proteins that are required at every step of RNA processing from transcription to translation, and they have immense potential to modify the gene expression output of cells. Thereby, RNA processing provides a critical regulatory point and aberrations in the machinery result in genetic disorders and cancer. Unlike the genetic code, we are far from deciphering the RNA code due to its inherent complexity arising from the plasticity of the regulatory signals. The difficulty of reliably detecting regulated RNA processing such as pre-mRNA splicing from RNA-sequencing data contributes to this challenge.  Recent studies have catalogued RNA binding proteins and global changes in RNA processing in different cell types, but there has been little demonstration of the functional consequences of regulated RNA processing. Thus, understanding the cellular relevance of RNA processing remains a major challenge in the field. 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