Research Topic

Mobile Genetic Elements in Cellular Differentiation, Genome Stability, and Cancer

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The human genome, as with the genome of most organisms, is comprised of various types of mobile genetic element derived repeats, including DNA-based and RNA-based transposable elements. Mobile genetic elements that mobilize by an RNA intermediate, include both autonomous and non-autonomous retrotransposons, ...

The human genome, as with the genome of most organisms, is comprised of various types of mobile genetic element derived repeats, including DNA-based and RNA-based transposable elements. Mobile genetic elements that mobilize by an RNA intermediate, include both autonomous and non-autonomous retrotransposons, and mobilize by a “copy and paste” mechanism that encodes or depends on a functional reverse transcriptase activity. DNA-based transposable elements utilize a transpose, or a DD35E family of integrases to mobilize by a “cut and paste” mechanism. The extent to which these different types of elements are actively mobilizing varies among organisms. To understand the normal and aberrant mechanisms that impact the mobility of these elements will require a more extensive understanding of how these elements interact with molecular pathways including DNA repair, recombination and chromatin. In addition, epigenetic and miRNA/piRNA based-mechanisms can also influence the mobility of these elements, likely by transcriptional activation or repression in certain cell types. Studies regarding how mobile genetic elements interface and evolve with these pathways in the genome will rely on studies from various model organisms. In addition, the mechanistic details of these elements will continue to be elucidated with the use of genetic, biochemical, molecular, and cellular approaches. The mechanistic details that contribute to understanding the biology of these elements in the human genome, suggest these elements may impact developmental biology, including cellular differentiation, neuronal development, and immune function. Aberrant changes in these molecular pathways may also impact disease, including neuronal degeneration, autoimmunity, and cancer.

In this topic we are interested in understanding the various molecular mechanisms that contribute to the normal or aberrant mobility of genetic elements, including studies in model organisms. In addition, studies that provide insight regarding how these elements may normally or aberrantly impact the stability of the genome such as during development or stem cell differentiation and additionally studies that implicate how these elements impact tumor biology or other diseases will be of significance.


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