Ulgherait, Matthew J.

Matt is a second year trainee and is in the Department of Biological Chemistry.  His research mentor is Dr. Feng Guo.  He received a B.S. degree in 2007 from Drexel University.

Mentor: Dr. Feng Guo

Research project:

MicroNAs (miRNAs) mediate gene silencing by guiding selective  messenger RNA degradation and suppression of protein translation. An ever growing body of evidence demonstrates the importance of miRNAs in regulating diverse cellular processes including development, apoptosis, and tumorigenesis. miRNAs are transcribed from the genome as long primary-miRNAs (pri-miRNAs), which undergo consecutive cleavage steps to yield mature 21-23 nucleotide miRNAs. The first processing step involves cleavage of the pri-miRNAs into ~65 nucleotide intermediate precursors called pre-miRNAs. This cleavage event is mediated by the ribonuclease Drosha and the RNA binding protein DGCR8. The abundance and RNA binding activity of DGCR8 protein critically affects levels of mature miRNAs. While the necessity of DGCR8 protein in regulating global miRNA biogenesis is well defined, the mechanisms that control DGCR8 activity and stability remain largely unexplored. My current work focuses on the elucidating mechanisms which govern pri-miRNA processing via post-translational modifications of DGCR8.