The complete sequence of the human genome provided quite a surprise to many by revealing that more than 98% of the transcriptional output represents non-protein coding RNAs (ncRNAs). In addition to housekeeping ncRNAs (rRNAs, tRNAs, etc.) and small RNAs (microRNAs, piRNAs, etc.), long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs, >200nt) are emerging as a major class of eukaryotic transcripts with both reported and yet undiscovered roles in gene regulation.
Our long-term goal is to discover new regulatory RNA species and to study their biogenesis and their mechanisms of action in mammalian cells. In the next five years, we are particularly interested in the following areas.
- Identify new RNA species in mammalian genomes by taking advantage of genome-wide approaches and computational analyses.
- Explore their biogenesis and new modes of gene regulation by lncRNAs and circular RNAs with molecular/cell biological and biochemical approaches.
- Understand the regulatory roles of particular ncRNAs in nuclear architecture and function by means of genome editing and cell biology.
- Investigate the function of evolutionary long noncoding RNAs by using human embryonic stem cells as models and gain insights into their regulatory roles in human diseases.
Together, these studies have the potential to advance our understanding of the mechanisms and functional roles of lncRNAs and circular RNAs in our genome.