Our Rationale and Interests

The explosion of publicly available sequencing and transcriptional profiling data that lies essentially at the fingertips of the bioscience community has quite literally revolutionized both basic and clinical biological research.  But the Neilson Laboratory believes that even with these resources, substantial gaps remain in scientific understanding of gene regulation and function. Our primary objective is to directly attack one of these gaps – to aid in building a better understanding of how programs of post-transcriptional gene regulation impinging on pre-existing mRNA impact mammalian development and disease. We are particularly interested in better defining how the 3' untranslated region of mRNA, and the factors that interact with this region (microRNAs and RNA binding proteins) ultimately control gene expression and function in mammalian systems.  This mode of regulation is largely (and sometimes completely) invisible within the context of standard transcriptional profiling approaches.

The lab is currently focusing on several facets of this overarching topic.  These range from prospective identification and mechanistic characterization of novel translational regulatory programs underlying classically defined “hallmarks” of human cancer to focused and directed testing of established models describing how post-transcriptional regulators interact with their targets.

Our Approaches

Our philosophy is to use the best tool for each job.  As such, we employ a variety of approaches in the pursuit of these questions, ranging from high throughput sequencing-based ribosomal and transcriptional profiling to classical molecular genetic and biochemical analysis of gene-specific events in vitro to construction of mouse mutants where our models can be tested in vivo. The broad technical expertise of our laboratory is further buttressed by friendly and talented local colleagues as well as Baylor College of Medicine’s impressive array of Advanced Technology Core Laboratories.