Previously depicted as the ‘dark matter of the genome’, it is becoming clearer that genes encoding long noncoding RNAs (lncRNA) are important players in all aspects of cell biology. LncRNAs are expressed in a tissue specific manner during development, have evolved in complex organisms and, surprisingly, are found in polysomes. What do these lncRNAs do? They bind proteins and regulate their activity (they do other things as well). While there are more than 10,000 different lncRNAs, only ~ 100 lncRNAs have been characterized to date and elucidating the functions these non coding RNAs have evolved to fulfil is our challenge.
1. We are studying lncRNAs that are important in brain cancer, glioblastoma, in general and in particular in glioblastoma cancer stem cells. 2. We are interested in how protein synthesis is regulated in the cells. We aim to learn more about the functions of lncRNAs in basic cell biology processes, in particular in regulation of protein translation. In cells, there is tight regulation of which RNAs will actually be translated. This is observed as specific RNAs partition between polysomal (translated) and non-polysomal (untranslated) fractions in resting and in stimulated conditions. We observed that lncRNA behave in a similar manner to coding mRNAs and we aim to elucidate their contribution to the translational landscape of the cell.