University of Cambridge > > Plant Sciences Research Seminars > Understating the role of small RNAs in gene regulatory networks

Understating the role of small RNAs in gene regulatory networks

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Suzy Stoodley.

Small RNA is a specific determinant of silencing mechanisms that can target RNA through base pairing to affect RNA stability and translation. This targeting process, directly or indirectly, can also target DNA and chromatin to introduce epigenetic modifications. In plants the set of sRNAs produced are between the most complex and diverse of those present in any life form. These sRNAs have enormous potential to influence genetic and epigenetic regulation because, from analyses of transgenes, it is clear that RNA silencing can have diverse effects. There can be RNA -mediated signalling between cells and complex interaction networks of RNA molecules with positive feedback and amplification loops. In addition there can be epigenetic effects that, once induced, can persist between generations.

In this project the main goal is to understand the role of sRNAs in gene regulatory networks. For this purpose a new algorithm was developed for the identification of messenger RNAs that, having been targeted by sRNAs, are the template for production of secondary sRNAs. These secondary sRNAs can then target other mRNAs and initiate cascades of sRNA production. Computer simulation was developed to test the performance of the algorithm in a variety of situations when compared to the existing methods. I also helped design experiments to better understand the properties that distinguish sRNAs with the ability to initiate secondary sRNA production from those that do not. In this talk I will review the progress done so far on these two objectives and discuss the ideas that will be developed on my third year.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Research Seminars series.

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