My research encompasses
Regulatory RNAs and stem cell biology.
A fundamental question in stem cell biology is what determines the
self-renewal and pluripotency of stem cells? Recent data indicate
that RNAi may play an important role in these processes. We aim to
understand the role of small regulatory RNAs specially microRNA in
the self-renewal and pluripotency of embryonic stem cells(ES cells)
and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). We plan to analyze
the miRNA and mRNA microarray data of both ES and iPS cells
systematically and investigate the function of individual miRNAs in
these and identify their target genes. Moreover, we are presently
interested to take a look into the emerging novel regulatory RNAs
viz. piRNAs and long non-coding RNAs and their role in cancer.
We are also focused to investigate a small subpopulation of cells
identified in cancers that have stem cell properties. These cells
hopefully will come up with appropriate answers to the following
questions: Why are most cancers difficult to eradicate and easy to
recur and metastasize? Why are some tumors resistant to therapy? Why
are some tumors highly aggressive? Are we targeting the right cells?
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are thus the cells within a tumor that
possess the capacity to self-renew and produce heterogeneous
lineages of cancer cells that comprise the tumor. The self-renewing
CSC is characterized by continuous expansion of cells in cancer
resulting in the development of a tumor, unlike normal stem cells in
which the total number of stem cells in a tissue is highly regulated
and expansion beyond the normal level is restricted by genetic
programs. We aim towards elucidating the key gene regulatory units
that reprograms normal cells to CSCs.