Anupma Choudhary

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It is increasingly evident that small regulatory RNAs, of which microRNAs are the best characterized, play central roles in animal and plant differentiation and development. Recent reports of nuclear-localized microRNAs have raised the hitherto unidentified possibility that microRNA function in animals may extend well beyond cytoplasmic effects on mRNA translation and stability. The focus of my research is to examine the role of microRNAs and other small RNAs in nuclear processes and the modulation of chromatin architecture.

In the first stage of this project I have explored the hypothesis that microRNA localisation to the nucleus may be a dynamically regulated and biologically meaningful process. My work to date has shown that the nuclear enrichment of miRNAs is cell cycle, cell density and cell differentiation dependent. Deep sequencing analyses of chromatin interacting RNAs have shown that specific microRNAs in mouse ES cells are associated with particular chromatin marks, and that there are other as-yet uncharacterized chromatin-associated small RNA species. My work has also validated the latter. My thesis will undertake continued analyses of nuclear localization of microRNAs with respect to cell cycle stage and differentiation dependence, the analysis of other small RNAs associated with chromatin, their regulation of transcription by epigenetic processes, and higher-order structures that RNAs form with DNA.

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