Investigation of the role of microRNAs in cell differentiation


Investigating the role of microRNAs in the regulation of stem cell multipotency and differentiation.


Professor John Rasko

Research Location

Centenary Institute, Gene & Stem Cell Therapy Program

Program Type



MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a new class of regulatory molecules that were discovered through investigation of the RNAi pathway, and have become one of the hottest topics in molecular biology today. They are transcribed as stem-loop structures from hundreds of previously unrecognised genes, and processed to single-stranded ~22nt forms, many of which have been strongly conserved through phylogeny. miRNAs take part in ribonucleoprotein complexes that modulate gene expression at the level of mRNA translation. In a few cases they are known to have an important influence on developmental pathways, but at present very little is known about their roles in cell differentiation and development. The very large numbers of miRNAs, their ability to modulate gene expression, and their differential expression in tissues and cell types, all imply that they may have a pervasive influence on cell differentiation. One system in which their role can be studied is haemopoiesis, in which a large variety of distinct cell types arise from multipotential stem cells and progenitors. In leukemia, this process is disordered, and clones of incompletely differentiated cells expand. We have developed sensitive and robust methods of assaying miRNA expression and wish to explore the role of miRNAs in a number of model systems using these methods.

Additional Information

Techniques will include DNA library screening by PCR and probes; computer analysis of sequence data; embryonic stem cell and other cell culture; FACS; fluorescence and confocal microscopy; transfection and transformation; many methods in molecular biology including DNA and protein purification; Western blotting etc. All these methods (and many more) are established in the host laboratory.

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Cancer, stem cell, microRNA, Leukemia, Cancer & leukaemia, Cell biology, Genes in biology & medicine, Heart & circulation

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 83