Neves, Lauren (2014 - 2017)

Lauren is in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology.  She joined the CMB training program in 2014. She received a B.S. degree in 2011 from UC Santa Cruz.

Mentor: Dr. Tracy Johnson

Research project:

Examining the Role of Histone Variant H2A.Z in Co-Transcriptional Splicing.

In eukaryotes, a complex and dynamic ribonucleic protein machine known as the spliceosome catalyzes the removal of introns from pre-messenger RNA. Although RNA synthesis and RNA processing have traditionally been studied as biochemically distinct reactions, recent studies have shown these two processes to be spatio-temporally coordinated, indicating that RNA splicing takes place in the context of chromatin. Chromatin is an array of nucleosomes made up of DNA and 8 core histone proteins (H2A, H2B, H3, and H4). Several histone variants exist that have more specialized functions. One is H2A.Z, encoded by htz1 in yeast, a variant that is known to affect gene expression.

Our lab seeks to define the relationship between RNA splicing and the chromatin environment. We have demonstrated that chromatin modification factors are important for proper spliceosome recruitment and splice site (SS) fidelity in S. cerevisiae. The histone acetyltransferase Gcn5 is required for U2 snRNP recruitment during the first catalytic step of splicing, and Snf2, a Swi/Snf chromatin-remodeler component, appears important for accurate SS recognition.

Recently, we have explored the possibility that histone variants play a role in co-transcriptional splicing as well. Specifically, my work seeks to characterize the role of the histone variant encoded by htz1 (H2A.Z) in co-transcriptional splicing.