Empirical Detection of Small RNA Targets

Project: Research project

Project Details


Naturally occurring small RNAs of 21 to 24 nucleotides in size are a ubiquitous feature of gene expression in many multicellular organisms, including plants and animals. These small RNAs ultimately function as specificity determinants that guide repressive protein complexes to target messenger RNAs based upon Watson-Crick base-pairing between the small RNA and target. Therefore, unlike classical protein-coding genes, expression of small RNAs does not directly influence phenotype. It is only though study the targets of small RNAs that their functions may be understood. Several computational methods have been described that predict the targets of small RNAs, and there are some experimental methodologies available for testing these predictions on a one at a time basis. However, there is currently no methodology capable of unbiased, genome-wide, and empirical detection of small RNA targets. This project seeks to develop and implement techniques that will, for the first time, experimentally identify all small RNA targets in vivo.

All characteristics of every living thing are ultimately controlled by genes. Not all genes are 'on' all of the time - fine regulation of the 'on-off' states of individual genes is an absolute necessity for life. So-called 'small RNAs' play a very important role in regulating specific 'target' genes in complex organisms like plants and animals. Identifying the targets of these small RNAs is thus critical to understanding gene regulation. This project will develop the first experimental, non-biased methodology for the identification of small RNA targets. This research will broadly impact the study of small RNA-mediated gene regulation, and will also contribute to the interdisciplinary training of the next generation of scientists.

Effective start/end date9/1/078/31/11


  • National Science Foundation: $461,595.00


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