RNA metabolism dysfunction and RNA-targeting therapy in neurodegeneration
The nervous system has extremely complex RNA processing regulation. Dysfunction of RNA metabolism has emerged to play crucial roles in multiple neurological diseases. Mutations and pathologies of several RNA-binding proteins are found to be associated with neurodegeneration in both amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). An alternative RNA-mediated toxicity arises from microsatellite repeat instability in the human genome. The expanded repeat-containing RNAs could potentially induce neuron toxicity by disrupting protein and RNA homeostasis through various mechanisms.
The Sun Lab is interested in deciphering the RNA processing pathways altered by the ALS-causative mutants to uncover the mechanisms of toxicity and molecular basis of cell type-selective vulnerability. Another major focus of the group is to identify small molecule and genetic inhibitors of neuron toxic factors using various high-throughput screening platforms. Finally, we are also highly interested in developing novel CRISPR technique-based therapeutic strategies. We seek to translate the mechanistic findings at molecular level to therapeutic target development to advance treatment options against neurodegenerative diseases.