The Van Wynsberghe lab studies how genes interact to regulate development of the nematode C. elegans. We study genes that are highly conserved in other organisms, including humans. Consequently our findings can help illuminate the complex genetic interactions necessary for proper cellular function in humans. We are particularly interested in genetic pathways that include small non-coding RNAs called microRNAs and the proteins that control microRNA production. Much of our research focuses on the study of the period protein homolog LIN-42, which acts as a transcriptional repressor to regulate both coding genes and non-coding genes like microRNAs. More specifically, our research focuses on 2 main avenues: 1) We have found that the period protein homolog LIN-42 regulates 95% of microRNAs in C. elegans’ embryos and that LIN-42 helps regulate the mitosis to meiosis transition in developing germ cells. Thus we are utilizing microscopy and molecular techniques to understand how LIN-42 regulates germline and embryonic development. 2) We are also interested in understanding how the period protein homolog LIN-42 is regulated. We have found that the period protein kinase homolog KIN-20 impacts LIN-42 expression and regulates microRNA biogenesis. Thus we are utilizing western blotting, immunoprecipitation and other molecular techniques to understand how KIN-20 regulates LIN-42 and microRNAs.
Student should have successfully completed Biol182 in order to be familiar with terminology and basic biological concepts utilized in this research.