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 and the period protein kinase homolog KIN-20. LIN-42 acts as a transcriptional repressor to regulate both coding genes and non-coding genes like microRNAs. We have also found that KIN-20 impacts LIN-42 expression and regulates microRNA biogenesis. Further underscoring the importance of the conserved KIN-20 gene, we have found that kin-20 mutant worms grow slowly, exhibit impaired movement, and have a significant reduction in progeny numbers.
Our current research focuses on understanding how KIN-20 regulates LIN-42 and microRNAs by utilizing western blotting, immunoprecipitation, quantitative real-time PCR, and other molecular techniques. Furthermore, to better understand how KIN-20 regulates organismal development we are conducting and analyzing results from a forward genetic screen. Many of these studies are facilitated by the production of new genetic strains by CRISPR technology. Students in the Van Wynsberghe lab will work collaboratively and independently to design, implement and analyze their experiments.
Student should have successfully completed Biol182 (or a similar course) in order to be familiar with terminology and basic biological concepts utilized in this research.
Number of Student Researchers
Applications open on 01/03/2022 and close on 02/04/2022