miRNAs are an important class of non-protein coding RNAs, and misregulation of their expression is often associated with diseases. We are interested in understanding how expression of miRNAs is controlled. Specifically, we aim to identify and analyze molecular mechanisms that control miRNA expression post-transcriptionally during miRNA maturation and degradation. In our recent studies, we showed that rates of miRNA production and degradation could be estimated by analyzing transcriptional activity and mature miRNA levels using RNAseq data from various samples. Through this analysis, we found a role for 5’-terminal nucleotides in determining half-lives of mature miRNAs. I will present results of our ongoing projects using gene expression data from fly and human subjects.
Professor, Nara Institute of Science and Technology
Katsutomo Okamura earned his B. A. from Hokkaido University, his M.S. from the Nara Institute of Science and Technology, and his Ph. D. from Tokushima University, Japan. His interest in small RNA pathways formed during his doctoral research with Mikiko and Haruhiko Siomi. Dr. Okamura continued to study this topic with Takako Isshiki at the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima Japan, and then with Eric Lai at the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York City. In 2012, he started his own group in Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory in Singapore and moved back to Japan in 2019 as a professor at Nara Institute of Science and Technology. His group studies molecular mechanisms of small RNA biogenesis and their roles in gene regulation.