About our Research
The research in our laboratory focuses on foundational mechanisms that regulate eukaryotic gene expression. In particular, we are interested in the roles played by small ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) and histone post-translational modifications (PTMs) in genetic information transfer and cellular memory. Over the years, our work has shifted from structure-function cell biological studies toward molecular genetic analyses, primarily using Drosophila as a model system. There are currently two main projects in the lab: (Project 1) We study an RNP assembly factor called Survival Motor Neuron (SMN) and its role in neuromuscular development and genetic disease (Spinal Muscular Atrophy, SMA). (Project 2) More recently, we established collaborations with other groups here at UNC to develop a powerful system to study epigenetic gene regulation. We have created a comprehensive genetic platform for analysis of multi-gene families like the one that encodes histones. For the first time in any multicellular eukaryote,we can now directly determine the extent to which a given histone post-translational modification contributes to cell fate and organismal development. Our multifaceted approach to studying cutting-edge topics in genetics and genomics provides an exciting training environment for undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.