The RNA biology and bioinformatics group focuses on the characterization and modeling of post-transcriptional regulatory networks involved in the coordination of gene expression programs in vertebrates, with a particular interest in regulatory events determined by the interaction of small non-coding RNAs and RNA binding proteins with mRNA untranslated sequence elements (UTRs). One main line of research investigates the role of 5' and 3' UTR elements in regulating gene expression. Our work focuses mainly on target mRNA molecules relevant for human development and disease. In particular, we are investigating mRNA regulatory mechanisms relevant for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, in an attempt to identify novel strategies for therapeutic intervention through the modulation of mRNA expression. We are also investigating how specific RNA binding proteins (U2AF, PTB1P, Quacking and Smn) act to coordinate gene expression programs relevant for vertebrate development and cell regulation. The use of bioinformatics for analysis of massive parallel sequencing data, sequence analysis, RNA structure and target prediction and modeling of gene-expression networks is central to our approaches.
Another main line of research focuses on the role of microRNAs and other small non-coding RNAs in the control of gene expression. In particular, we are involved in a close collaborative project with the Clinical immunology and Retrovirology units of the Institute of Molecular Medicine to address the role of small non-coding RNAs during T-cell activation and in response to HIV infection.