Prof Vicky Cowling, FRSE - Gene Regulation


Cowling Vicky 2021

In every human cell, the expression of 25,000 genes is precisely regulated to generate the spectrum of cell types required through development and into the adult. We are interested in the signalling pathways that coordinate and regulate gene expression, and how dysregulation of these pathways is a cause or consequence of disease. Our aim is to understand how gene expression is regulated in health and disease, and to use this knowledge to develop and refine therapeutic approaches.

Our focus is on the RNA cap, a structure found on pre-mRNA and non-coding RNA that protects RNA and recruits factors involved in processing and translation. A series of RNA capping enzymes catalyses cap formation, predominantly as the transcript is being synthesised. We are interested in how these RNA capping enzymes are regulated during development and in the adult, and the impact that this has on gene expression. Currently, we are investigating RNA cap regulation in embryonic stem cell differentiation, during T cell activation and following oncogene dysregulation in cancer models.

Regulation of the RNA cap can have potent effects on cell function and fate decisions via the regulation of specific gene families. We characterise the biochemical configuration of capping enzyme complexes in different cell types or disease states, follow how these configurations change during differentiation and disease, and determine the impact on gene expression and cell function and fate decisions.

Other funding:
LOGO ERC 2020                                Wellcome Trust logo                                      UKRI MR Council-Logo Horiz-RGB
                              ChineseScholarship logo                                    Royal Society logo