Molecular biology of non-coding RNAs
My research group studies non-coding RNAs and their involvement in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Non-coding RNAs are a class of RNA molecules with no coding potential that plays a fundamental role in regulating gene expression at multiple levels - epigenetic, transcriptional, and post-transcriptional - and which is involved in several important biological processes, notably differentiation and development. However, their deregulation has also been linked to several pathologies, including tumors and neurodegenerative diseases. Non-coding RNAs can be classified into small non-coding RNAs, such as microRNAs (miRNAs) for example, and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), depending whether their size is less or more than 200 nucleotides.
In the last years, the goal of my research activity has been the identification of miRNAs and lncRNAs involved in transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of CDK5R1 expression. The CDK5R1 gene encodes p35, the main activatory subunit of CDK5, a protein kinase with a key role in CNS development which has also been shown to be involved in Alzheimer’s disease neurodegeneration process by abnormal phosphorylation of APP and Tau proteins.
More recently, I became interested in autophagy, a process that the cell uses to remove and recycle damaged or dysfunctional components, such as proteins or organelles, which is fundamental for cellular homeostasis maintenance and for cell survival under stress conditions. In particular, I am trying to identify non-coding RNAs, miRNAs and lncRNAs, that can regulate key proteins involved in the autophagic process and to understand whether dysregulated autophagy caused by miRNAs and lncRNAs can have a role in the molecular and cellular mechanisms leading to aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
Prof. Marco Venturin
Via F.lli Cervi, 93 - 20090 Segrate (MI), Italia