The discovery of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) has changed the way we see a broad array of cellular events nowadays in all kingdoms of life. Their complexity in number and types increases as we move up to the evolutionary ladder and many of them specifically target RNA or DNA to inhibit gene function. In eukaryotes, ncRNAs consist of small molecules (<200 nt, miRNAs, siRNAs, and piRNAs) or large molecules (>200 nt, lncRNAs). All of them affect significantly cellular metabolism in almost every level of gene expression and most significantly many miRNAs are reliable biomarkers for many diseases. Most recently, the discovery of the prokaryotic immune system represented by CRISPR and the eukaryotic piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNA) immune system that inhibits mobile elements in germ line, represent the diversity and remarkable complexity of the “RNA world”. Finally, the discovery of tRNA-derived fragments (tRFs) with similar regulatory role to miRNAs, has provided a completely new landscape of gene regulation in many organisms including human antibiotics.
Projects of the RNA biology group at the Department of Biochemistry of the School of Medicine at the University of Patras, include:
- Identification and analysis of tRFs from various cancer types
- Studies on role of miRNAs and the proteins that modulate its regulatory role in various human disease models
- tRNA, tRFs and miRNAs sequencing using NGS