Neurogenomics is presently at a very exciting crossroad since recent discoveries have challenged the classic model of gene organization and information flow providing potential new regulatory layers of neuronal cell function.
Non-coding RNAs and RNA-based Therapeutics
Our laboratory is developing two research lines:
- SINEUPS: A new functional class of natural and synthetic lncRNAs that activate translation in a gene-dependent fashion. We are studying the regulatory role of natural SINEUPs in brain function and the use of synthetic SINEUPs as RNA therapeutics of neurodegenerative diseases.
- TEs: We are currently investigating the role of the expression and mobilization of TEs in brain function and neurodegenerative diseases. To this purpose we are developing technologies for the identification of structural variations in neurons.
Results from ENCODE and the FANTOM projects have shown that the majority of the mammalian genome is transcribed. This generates a vast repertoire of transcripts that includes long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) and Transposable Elements (TE), such as SINEs (short interspersed nuclear elements) and LINEs (long interspersed nuclear elements). TEs can form independent transcriptional units or be embedded in mRNA or lncRNAs. Surprisingly, the large majority of genes share their genomic region with another gene on the opposite filament forming Sense/Antisense pairs. Furthermore, transcription and retrotransposition of LINEs and SINEs occur during neurogenesis creating somatic differences in genomic DNA sequences of neuronal cells.