Biochemistry, DNA and RNA, Molecular Biology, RNA Biology
Johns Hopkins University
We are RNA biologists interested in the interaction between gene and environment. In human genome, only 5% encodes for proteins while most are transcribed as non-coding RNAs (previously thought to be junk DNA). We are interested in two classes of non-coding RNAs – microRNAs and circular RNAs (circRNAs). We recently found that, during stress that is common in cancers and viral infection, microRNA activities and other RNA metabolic processes are regulated by a “druggable” post-translational modification called ADP-ribosylation and PARPs – the enzymes that makes ADP-ribosylation. Given that PARP inhibitors have shown promise in treating cancers, neurodegenerative diseases and ischemia, we are actively exploring the role of poly(ADP-ribose) regulation in microRNA activities in these diseases.