Understanding mechanisms of small RNA-mediated silencing


  • Dr Elizabeth Bayne

    University of Edinburgh

Project summary

RNA interference (RNAi) is a fundamental regulatory pathway by which small RNAs turn off – or  ‘silence’ – genes. It is important for the normal function of the cell, and defects in the pathway are linked to diseases including cancers. 

We aim to understand how this pathway works using the model organism fission yeast, which has an RNAi pathway similar to that in humans but in a simplified form. We want to investigate the important but poorly understood first steps in the RNAi pathway, aiming to identify the proteins that help to initiate small RNA production and silencing. We want to understand their roles and determine what mechanisms ensure that only certain genes are selected for silencing. We also want to investigate RNAi pathways in alternative types of yeast to determine whether these might be even better model systems for understanding key aspects of the more complex RNAi pathways in humans.