Regulated mRNA stability and translation in neural stem cell development


  • Prof Ilan Davis

    University of Oxford

Project summary

Human brains develop from a limited number of stem cells producing billions of diverse brain cells. Such immense complexity arises by regulating which combinations of genes are made into proteins in each brain cell. We are investigating the universal principles governing these processes in the fruit fly, whose genes and developmental mechanisms are very similar to humans. Current thinking on brain development is that the amount of protein made in each cell is regulated by the amount of RNA, an intermediate molecule that transfers the information kept in DNA that determines which proteins are synthesised.

We have discovered a cohort of genes with important brain functions regulated by unexpected additional mechanisms of RNA stability and the rate of protein production. 

Our discoveries will help explain the rules governing genetic control of brain development and further our understanding of how developmental disorders and brain tumours arise from disruptions in RNA-related processes.