The chemical building blocks that make up RNA are central to its function. Pioneering studies in the mid 1970s were the first to show that cellular mRNAs contain chemically modified bases in addition to the standard A, G, C, and U residues. Recent technological advances have enabled the identification and investigation of these mRNA modifications on an unprecedented scale. As a result, our understanding of the "epitranscriptome" has rapidly accelerated in recent years, and we have gained new insights into this fundamental aspect of RNA biology.
One modified base which is particularly prevalent throughout the transcriptome is N6-methyladenosine, or m6A, which occurs when A residues become methylated.
Many studies in our laboratory focus on m6A and how it contributes to fundamental aspects of gene expression control. We have a particular interest in understanding how m6A as well as other RNA modifications shape gene expression programs in the nervous system. Current areas of investigation include understanding m6A:protein interactions in the brain, discovering pathways that regulate m6A in response to neuronal signaling, and exploring the consequences of loss of m6A on neurophysiology and brain function.