AUG 30, 2016 8:00 AM PDT

Building embryonic lineages

  • Leo Kurian, PhD

    Independent Group Leader CECAD - Cluster of Excellence, Institute for Neurophysiology & Center for Molecular Medicine (CMMC), University of Cologne, Germany

The human body is composed of about 200 different cell types. The identity and function of these distinct cell types are precisely programmed by the regulatory networks encoded in the 3 billion base pairs of DNA that constitute the human genome. While 60% of our genome is transcribed, less than 2% of it is translated to proteins. In contrast to previous assumptions, this suggests that a significant majority of the regulatory information from the genome functions as RNAs, termed non-coding RNAs. Emerging evidences suggest that a substantial portion of these non-coding transcripts control myriad biological processes ranging from development to disease, establishing the vital role played by these RNA regulatory elements. In addition, these molecules are regulated by RNA binding proteins at the functional level. We investigate how RNA regulatory elements program cellular identities during cardiac development, aging, and regeneration.

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