Thomas-Tikhonenko Laboratory

Thomas-Tikhonenko Laboratory

It has been a decade since scientists realized that microRNAs (miRNAs) are not an oddity invented by worms to regulate gene expression at post-transcriptional levels. Rather, many of these 21-22-nucleotide-short RNAs exist in invertebrates and vertebrates alike and some of them are in fact highly conserved. miRNAs are now recognized as an important class of non-coding small RNAs that inhibit gene expression by targeting mRNA stability and translation. In the last ten years, our knowledge of the miRNAs world was expanding at vertiginous speed, propelled by the development of computational engines for miRNA identification and target prediction, biochemical tools and techniques to modulate miRNA activity, and last but not least, the emergence of miRNA-centric animal models. One important conclusion that has emerged from this effort is that many microRNAs and their cognate targets are strongly implicated in cancer, either as oncogenes or tumor and metastasis suppressors. In our laboratory, we investigate the diverse role that miRNAs play in cancer initiation and progression and also the tools with which aberrant miRNA expression could be corrected in vivo.