Cave Lab
Research Projects

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Small Molecule Manipulation of Gene Expression

In Progress

Nucleic acid secondary structures, such as G-quadruplexes and i-motifs, are emerging as important regulators of gene expression in the nervous system. Our laboratory has recently shown that nucleic acid secondary structures are instrumental in regulating the expression of tyrosine hyrdoxylase and glutamic acid decarboxylase 1. This research project builds on these recent findings and explores the potential of using small molecules to modulate nucleic acid secondary structure stability in order to manipulate gene expression in either mature neurons or neural progenitors. There are several directions that we are pursuing with this strategy, including:

  • Ÿproviding neuroprotection from oxidative stress resulting from either stroke or neurodegeneration
  • altering cell fate in differentiating neural progenitors
  • Ÿmodifying expression levels of specific genes for therapeutic benefit, such as pain alleviation 

The studies in this projectwill provide new and fundamental insights into the role that nucleic acid secondary structure has in regulating gene expression in the nervous system. Furthermore, these studies will address whether nucleic acid secondary structures are effective molecular targets for treating neurological diseases that offer exciting opportunities for developing novel pharmacological therapies.