The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology
Recent insights have revealed the functional role of various classes of noncoding RNA molecules, especially in answering questions that have proven unviable with the central dogma of biology and conventional protein pathways. Our lab has been on the forefront of noncoding RNA research and their involvement in various human diseases with a particular emphasis on cancer metabolic reprogramming and genetic disorders.
We have discovered a long noncoding RNA (i.e. LINK-A) that promotes normoxic stabilization of HIF1A, which activates genes related to cancer metabolism. Recently, we have been interested in noncoding RNAs that pertain to genetic disorders such as muscular dystrophy and male pattern baldness. Muscular dystrophy is a class of heritable diseases that is accompanied by a progressive weakening of specific muscular systems in the body. We have found that one non-coding RNA prevents degradation of dystrophin, a key component of muscle fibers. Gain-of-function experiments in mice have demonstrated an increased body mass of approximately 20%, primarily accounted for by enhanced muscle mass. Additionally, we have discovered a non-coding RNA that is important for male pattern baldness, and thus, we are interested in testing a novel topical application of RNA medicine to counteract baldness in mice with translatability to humans in the near future.
10-week Rotation Project: Muscle Augmentation by RNA Medicine – We have demonstrated that RNA molecules can modulate the growth of skeletal muscle. We are planning to inject RNA molecules directly into mouse skeletal muscle to evaluate local induction of muscle hypertrophy. The muscle tissue will be harvested for immunohistochemistry, immune-RNA in situ hybridization and electron microscopy to determine the effects of RNA medicine.
Education & Training
PhD, Georgia State University, 2006