Research

RNA regulation in the Nervous System

Neural Development, Neurodegeneration and Behaviour

The Alonso Lab investigates the molecular mechanisms controlling gene function during neural development.

More specifically our work is focused on the regulatory roles of RNA with the view of establishing the mechanisms and roles of this type of molecular regulation on the formation and function of complex tissues, such as the nervous system. On-going experiments are also exploring how RNA regulatory processes affect neurodegeneration and the control of behaviour (see News section).

Over the last several years the lab has studied the function and regulation of a specific group of genes, the Hox genes, which encode a family of transcriptional regulators that are evolutionary conserved all the way from insects to mammals. The Hox genes are required for the correct head-to-tail patterning of animal bodies and anomalies in their molecular regulation are related to several types of human disease. Hox regulation is particularly important during the development of the nervous system offering us an excellent biological context where to explore our molecular questions on the mechanisms and roles of RNA control.

Current work in the lab exploits our close understanding of the Hox system to address modern questions in RNA regulation within the context of neural development. In particular we investigate: (i) the molecular mechanisms that control the processes of mRNA processing, microRNA regulation, mRNA stability and translation within the developing nervous system, and (ii) the biological effects that these molecular processes have on neural development.

Given the evolutionary conservation of the Hox genes all the way from insects to humans, our experiments can exploit the power and sophistication of modern genetics, genomics and imaging approaches in the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster together with the biochemical accessibility of mammalian cell cultures.

If you are interested in these areas or wish to develop an independent postdoctoral project within my lab please get in contact (see details below).

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Informal enquiries about the Alonso Lab should be addressed to Claudio Alonso by email: c.alonso@sussex.ac.uk