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David Coppage

PREP Program

Lab Group: Phil Crews

PREP Research:

Undergraduate Major: Chemistry

Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz


 

Fabiola Juárez Jaramillo

PREP Program

Lab Group: Manny Ares

PREP Research:

I study the regulation of the Spermidine/Spermine N1-acetyltransferase (SSAT) gene by alternative splicing, coupled to nonsense-mediated decay (NMD). High spermine (SSAT substrate) represses the splicing of a highly conserved, non-coding exon that contains premature termination codons. Depending on the spermine concentration in an in vitro model, exon RNA folds into one of two secondary structures. We hypothesize that this exon is a riboswitch that regulates splicing. I transfect Human Embryonic Kidney 293T cells with GFP or RFP constructs under control of the exon and treat them with a spermine analog, N1, N11-diethylnospermine to understand the function, structure, and trans-acting factors that influence this riboswitch exon in human cells.

Undergraduate Major: Biology

Undergraduate Institution: California State University, Los Angeles


 

Tiara Askew

PREP Program

Lab Group: William Sullivan & John Tamkun

PREP Research:

I am currently studying Wolbachia, a bacteria endosymbiont present in over 70% of arthropods and filarial nematodes and forms a variety of relationships with its host, ranging from parasitic to mutualistic.  It has recently received much attention in the press because of its ability to suppress Dengue and Zika viral replication. Preliminary studies indicate that some wild strains of Wolbachia specifically disrupt X chromosome structure in males. This effect is strikingly similar to well-known chromatin remodelers such as ISWI. My PREP research focuses on determining if Wolbachia is the cause of the abnormal chromosome structure, thus influencing gene expression.

Undergraduate Major: Biology

Undergraduate Institution: Bowie State University



Lucero Rogel

PREP Program

Lab Group: Alan Zahler

PREP Research: 

The Zahler lab works to investigate the mechanism of RNA splicing by utilizing C. elegans as a model organism. Accurate splicing of pre-mRNA is a critical step in the gene expression pathway in eukaryotes carried out by a large ribonucleoprotein complex known as the spliceosome. The spliceosome consists of 5 RNAs (U1, U2, U4, U5, and U6) that assemble onto the pre-mRNA by recognizing conserved sequence elements that define the beginning and ends of introns, known as 5’ and 3’ splice sites. To facilitate the interactions between the pre-mRNA and the 5 RNAs, over 150 proteins are employed to aid in the process. Currently in the lab, I am working on elucidating the role of spliceosomal protein SNRP-27 in 5’ splice site selection by uncovering differential interactions that a mutant and wild type form of this factor have with the splicing machinery.

Undergraduate Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz



Jennyfer Tena

PREP Program 

Lab Group: Ted Holman 

PREP Research:

Undergraduate Major: Chemistry

Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz



Alexis Thornton

PREP Program

Lab Group: Angela Brooks

PREP Research:

The Brooks lab studies somatic mutations that affect mRNA splicing and cause changes to the transcriptome. My project involves using a computational method called expression-based variant impact phenotyping (eVIP) to functionally characterize cancer transcript variants using gene expression data. Specifically, I am trying to characterize what splicing changes occur with a mutation in the U2AF1 splicing factor, which has been identified in multiple cancer types. 

Undergraduate Major: Biology

Undergraduate Institution: University of Florida



Daniel Vong

PREP Program 

Lab Group: Needhi Bhalla

PREP Research:

My research investigates the mechanisms that ensure proper chromosome segregation by characterizing a mutant version of PCH-2 that can bind, but not hydrolyze ATP (pch-2[e253Q]). Thus, I am analyzing meiotic events in prophase in this mutant background to determine if pch-2(e253Q) mutants behave differently or similar to complete loss of PCH-2 function in meiosis.

Undergraduate Major: Mechanical Engineering

Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara



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