Careers & Students

Investigating the function of non-canonical microRNAs 

Investigating the function of non-canonical microRNAs 

PhD/Honours project

MicroRNAs are tiny ~22 nucleotide RNAs that modulate the translation of protein-coding messenger RNAs (mRNAs). In most cases, recognition by microRNAs occurs by partial base-pairing with the 3’ untranslated regions of target mRNAs. This results in repression of protein translation via a range of mechanisms. Because only partial base-pairing is required, a single microRNA can regulated many possible targets. And with ~1000 microRNAs encoded by mammalian genomes, microRNAs have important functions in most, if not all, biological processes. Although the biogenesis of most microRNAs is dependent on the two RNase III enzymes Drosha and Dicer, we have discovered a number of microRNAs that appear to bypass the requirement for Drosha. At superficial level, these non-canonical microRNAs look like other microRNAs. Many are associated with cancer and we assume that they contribute to oncogenesis by targeting specific mRNAs. However, it remains unclear whether they function like true microRNAs. Thus, the goal of this project is to determine if non-canonical microRNAs actually recognize and regulate target mRNAs.

Supervised by:

  • Associate Professor Mark Chong
  • Disease Focus:

  • Cancer
  • Research Unit:

  • Genomics & immunology