Identification of long non coding RNAs in cell dedifferentiation, proliferation and cancer stem cells.
The past 100 years of biological research has focused on genes that encode proteins. However, over 80% of the human genome does not encode proteins, and at some point had even been termed "junk DNA." We now know that non-protein coding DNA may actually hold the key to biological diversity, organismal complexity and a multitude of human disorders. As in any studies of complex biological processes, using a more experimentally tractable model organism holds the key to making scientific progress. Zebrafish, a genetically tractable vertebrate with robust embryologic and stem cell tools might be ideally suited for studying lncRNA biology if its non-coding sequences can be correlated with human non-coding RNAs. Since sequence conservation is often not the case for lncRNAs, more sophisticated tools are required. This project aims to utilize a robust tissue regeneration process and embryogenesis to probe the similarities between zebrafish and human lncRNA biology.