Matching Items (4)

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Use of microRNA to Determine the Age of Forensically Relevant Blow Fly Pupae

Description

Medicolegal forensic entomology is the study of insects to aid with legal investigations (Gemmellaro, 2017). Insect evidence can be used to provide information such as the post-mortem interval (PMI). Blow

Medicolegal forensic entomology is the study of insects to aid with legal investigations (Gemmellaro, 2017). Insect evidence can be used to provide information such as the post-mortem interval (PMI). Blow flies are especially useful as these insects are primary colonizers, quickly arriving at a corpse (Malainey & Anderson, 2020). The age of blow flies found at a scene is used to calculate the PMI. Blow fly age can be estimated using weather data as these insects are poikilothermic (Okpara, 2018). Morphological analysis also can be used to estimate age; however, it is more difficult with pupal samples as the pupae exterior does not change significantly as development progresses (Bala & Sharma, 2016). Gene regulation analysis can estimate the age of samples. MicroRNAs are short noncoding RNA that regulate gene expression (Cannell et al., 2008). Here, we aim to catalog miRNAs expressed during the development of three forensically relevant blow fly species preserved in several storage conditions. Results demonstrated that various miRNA sequences were differentially expressed across pupation. Expression of miR92b increased during mid pupation, aga-miR-92b expression increased during early pupation, and bantam, miR957, and dana-bantam-RA expression increased during late pupation. These results suggest that microRNA can be used to estimate the age of pupal samples as miRNA expression changes throughout pupation. Future work could develop a statistical model to accurately determine age using miRNA expression patterns.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2021-05

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Insights towards developing regenerative therapies: the lizard, Anolis carolinensis, as a genetic model for regeneration in amniotes

Description

Damage to the central nervous system due to spinal cord or traumatic brain injury, as well as degenerative musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis, drastically impact the quality of life. Regeneration

Damage to the central nervous system due to spinal cord or traumatic brain injury, as well as degenerative musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis, drastically impact the quality of life. Regeneration of complex structures is quite limited in mammals, though other vertebrates possess this ability. Lizards are the most closely related organism to humans that can regenerate de novo skeletal muscle, hyaline cartilage, spinal cord, vasculature, and skin. Progress in studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms of lizard regeneration has previously been limited by a lack of genomic resources. Building on the release of the genome of the green anole, Anolis carolinensis, we developed a second generation, robust RNA-Seq-based genome annotation, and performed the first transcriptomic analysis of tail regeneration in this species. In order to investigate gene expression in regenerating tissue, we performed whole transcriptome and microRNA transcriptome analysis of regenerating tail tip and base and associated tissues, identifying key genetic targets in the regenerative process. These studies have identified components of a genetic program for regeneration in the lizard that includes both developmental and adult repair mechanisms shared with mammals, indicating value in the translation of these findings to future regenerative therapies.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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The functional evolution of human microRNA families

Description

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that play key roles during metazoan development, and are frequently misregulated in human disease. MiRNAs regulate gene output by targeting degenerate elements primarily in

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that play key roles during metazoan development, and are frequently misregulated in human disease. MiRNAs regulate gene output by targeting degenerate elements primarily in the 3´ untranslated regions of mRNAs. MiRNAs are often deeply conserved, but have undergone drastic expansions in higher metazoans, leading to families of miRNAs with highly similar sequences. The evolutionary advantage of maintaining multiple copies of duplicated miRNAs is not well understood, nor has the distinct functions of miRNA family members been systematically studied. Furthermore, the unbiased and high-throughput discovery of targets remains a major challenge, yet is required to understand the biological function of a given miRNA.

I hypothesize that duplication events grant miRNA families with enhanced regulatory capabilities, specifically through distinct targeting preferences by family members. This has relevance for our understanding of vertebrate evolution, as well disease detection and personalized medicine. To test this hypothesis, I apply a conjunction of bioinformatic and experimental approaches, and design a novel high-throughput screening platform to identify human miRNA targets. Combined with conventional approaches, this tool allows systematic testing for functional targets of human miRNAs, and the identification of novel target genes on an unprecedented scale.

In this dissertation, I explore evolutionary signatures of 62 deeply conserved metazoan miRNA families, as well as the targeting preferences for several human miRNAs. I find that constraints on miRNA processing impact sequence evolution, creating evolutionary hotspots within families that guide distinct target preferences. I apply our novel screening platform to two cancer-relevant miRNAs, and identify hundreds of previously undescribed targets. I also analyze critical features of functional miRNA target sites, finding that each miRNA recognizes surprisingly distinct features of targets. To further explore the functional distinction between family members, I analyze miRNA expression patterns in multiple contexts, including mouse embryogenesis, RNA-seq data from human tissues, and cancer cell lines. Together, my results inform a model that describes the evolution of metazoan miRNAs, and suggests that highly similar miRNA family members possess distinct functions. These findings broaden our understanding of miRNA function in vertebrate evolution and development, and how their misexpression contributes to human disease.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Mechanisms of miRNA-based gene regulation in C. elegans and human cells

Description

Multicellular organisms use precise gene regulation, executed throughout development, to build and sustain various cell and tissue types. Post-transcriptional gene regulation is essential for metazoan development and acts on mRNA

Multicellular organisms use precise gene regulation, executed throughout development, to build and sustain various cell and tissue types. Post-transcriptional gene regulation is essential for metazoan development and acts on mRNA to determine its localization, stability, and translation. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and RNA binding proteins (RBPs) are the principal effectors of post-transcriptional gene regulation and act by targeting the 3'untranslated regions (3'UTRs) of mRNA. MiRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that have the potential to regulate hundreds to thousands of genes and are dysregulated in many prevalent human diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and cancer. However, the precise contribution of miRNAs to the pathology of these diseases is not known.

MiRNA-based gene regulation occurs in a tissue-specific manner and is implemented by an interplay of poorly understood and complex mechanisms, which control both the presence of the miRNAs and their targets. As a consequence, the precise contributions of miRNAs to gene regulation are not well known. The research presented in this thesis systematically explores the targets and effects of miRNA-based gene regulation in cell lines and tissues.

I hypothesize that miRNAs have distinct tissue-specific roles that contribute to the gene expression differences seen across tissues. To address this hypothesis and expand our understanding of miRNA-based gene regulation, 1) I developed the human 3'UTRome v1, a resource for studying post-transcriptional gene regulation. Using this resource, I explored the targets of two cancer-associated miRNAs miR-221 and let-7c. I identified novel targets of both these miRNAs, which present potential mechanisms by which they contribute to cancer. 2) Identified in vivo, tissue-specific targets in the intestine and body muscle of the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. The results from this study revealed that miRNAs regulate tissue homeostasis, and that alternative polyadenylation and miRNA expression patterns modulate miRNA targeting at the tissue-specific level. 3) Explored the functional relevance of miRNA targeting to tissue-specific gene expression, where I found that miRNAs contribute to the biogenesis of mRNAs, through alternative splicing, by regulating tissue-specific expression of splicing factors. These results expand our understanding of the mechanisms that guide miRNA targeting and its effects on tissue-specific gene expression.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019