RNA Processing in Health and Human Diseases
Dr. Vivian Cheung is a pediatric neurologist who studies RNA biology. Our project focuses on basic mechanisms of RNA processing. We use biochemical, genetics, and computational methods to study the sequences, expression, and structures of nucleic acids. Our work spans from yeast to human cells, including those from patients that Dr. Cheung sees in the neurogenetics clinic.
Gene expression levels are regulated at multiple levels to allow cells to respond to environmental stimuli and stresses, as well as to perform cellular functions. We are particularly interested in ways that cells make different gene transcripts and protein isoforms from the same DNA sequences. These are achieved in RNA processing steps such as differential splicing and RNA editing. Splicing and editing allow cells to make transcripts and alter their expression levels quickly to adapt to different needs. We study how these steps are regulated in normal human cells and how dysregulations lead to diseases. We are particularly interested in the abnormal RNA processing in neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other types of neuromuscular diseases.
Our EXROP students will study the basic biology of gene regulation from yeast to humans using genome-wide approaches such as nascent RNA sequencing to mass spectrometry, and learn to use informatics approaches to turn "big data" into biological questions and answers.