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|2002 -||Lecturer||Department of Biology, University of York|
|1998 - 2002||Research Scientist||Sainsbury Laboratory, John Innes Centre, Norwich|
|1995 - 1998||Post-doc||Department of Virus Research, John Innes Centre, Norwich|
|1992 - 1995||Post-doc||Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis, USA|
|1988 - 1991||PhD||Department of Genetics, University of Leicester|
|1985 - 1988||BSc (hons)||Biological Science, University of Leicester|
I have a long-standing interest in RNA biology and post-transcriptional control of gene expression. A particular focus is RNA silencing, which is a conserved mechanism of gene regulation in eukaryotes and is involved in controlling endogenous gene expression and defence against invasive nucleic acids such as viruses. Interestingly RNA silencing can promote epigenetic changes such as DNA methylation and histone modification and one idea is that these pathways contribute to phenotypic plasticity in response to environmental change. Currently my lab is using a combination of molecular and genetic approaches to investigating the connection between RNA silencing and DNA methylation and its wider significance.
NRPD1a and NRPD1b are required for maintenance of post-transcriptional RNA silencing.
Impairment of virus-induced gene silencing occurs in plants defective for the RDR6 RNA-dependent RNA Polymerase
Investigating RNA-directed DNA methylation. (Funding body: BBSRC PhD studentship)
Transgenerational Stress Responses (Funding body: NERC PhD studentship)
Targeting the RNA silencing machinery: influence of location in the genome. (Funding body: BBSRC PhD studentship)
Novel mutations in the RNA-directed DNA methylation pathway. (Funding body: Gatsby Charitable Foundation)
|Research Student||Tom Brabbs||Investigating RNA-directed DNA methylation. BBSRC|
|Rsearch Student||Tom Smith||Transgenerational Stress Responses (NERC)|
|Research Student||Eleanor Walton||Targeting the RNA silencing machinery: influence of location in the genome (BBSRC)|
Novel Regulators of Seedling Growth (2015-16)
RNA polymerase (pol) III synthesizes noncoding RNAs that are essential for growth, e.g. tRNA and 5S rRNA. Elevated tRNA expression has been shown to stimulate cell proliferation and organismal growth in fruitflies. In yeast and animal cells, transcription by pol III is tightly linked to growth conditions, sometimes through epigenetic changes: it is suppressed in quiescent/dormant cells by transcriptional inhibitors; growth stimuli inactivate these inhibitors and induce direct activators of pol III transcription. In Arabidopsis, transcription, methylation and compaction of 5S rRNA genes is regulated during seed development and germination. It is not yet known if tRNA expression is controlled in a similar way to 5S rRNA in plants, although precedents from other organisms predict that this is the case. The project will have four main objectives: 1. Determine how tRNA expression is regulated when Arabidopsis seeds exit dormancy; 2. Test the hypothesis that loss of dormancy triggers epigenetic changes in tRNA genes; 3. Test if tRNA genes in Arabidopsis are regulated by homologues of transcription factors that regulate pol III transcription in animal cells (e.g. MYC, MAF1, RB); 4. Test if manipulating tRNA expression can influence seedling growth.
Co directors: Professor Bob White and Professor Ian Graham