Eliza's Current Project

RNA binding proteins (RBPs) are required for post-transcriptional control of gene function. RBPs have multiple roles in neurons, and contribute to neuron-type specificity and neuroplasticity. 3’ untranslated regions (3’UTRs) of transcripts contain binding sites for RBPs. The majority of protein coding genes have multiple 3’UTR isoforms that interact with specific subsets RBPs thereby conferring transcript-specific functions. Publicly available high-throughput sequencing databases provide the opportunity to reanalyze data using updated/novel algorithms. We developed and employed a novel analysis algorithm called CSI-UTR to characterize 3’UTR isoforms and RBP binding sites in RNA-Seq profiles generated from dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons. Using this approach, we assessed strain, sex, age and cell-type specific variation in RBP 3’UTRs interactions in rat, mouse and Human DRG. This approach, applied to the study of somatosensory neurons, is uncovering exciting new insights about the multimodality of touch sensation and is providing novel targets to develop therapeutics for neuropathic pain.