Barna Lab

We study gene regulation at the post-transcriptional level in embryonic development, tissue regeneration and in stem cells

Our Research

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Ribosome Mediated Control of Gene Expression

Work from our lab has changed the view that ribosomes are passive, indiscriminate machines. Our studies suggest that the translation machinery is a more dynamic, macromolecular complex with complex and specialized roles in the cell. A major interest in the lab is centered on understanding how ribosomes dictate when and where proteins are made to direct rapid and dynamic cell fate transitions. We study both the functional roles of ribosomes in normal mammalian development and in disease states such as ribosomopathies. We employ a wide-variety of technologies including mass spectrometry, sub cellular resolution imaging, as well as sequencing platforms to characterize ribosomes and their variation at the level of protein, rRNA, and modifications. Ultimately, the goals of the lab are to know how ribosomes function in sub cellular space, across different cell types, and the biological meaning of ribosome-mediated control of gene expression towards organismal development and evolution.

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Control of Tissue Patterning & Regeneration

Our lab has a long standing interest in understanding how tissues become correctly patterned and organized. For example, how do cells in a small developing limb bud give rise to an exquisite array of correctly patterned skeletal elements such as wrist bones and digits? What scales these skeletal elements to their correct sizes in different vertebrates and controls the patterning of their unique shapes? We are fascinated by how cells communicate over long distances in organs to instruct such decisions. In particular, our work has applied state-of-the-art imaging to identify fine cellular extensions that coordinate the movements of key signaling proteins and control cell-cell communication over long-distances. We combine cell biology with bioengineering tools to manipulate these forms of cellular communication to better understand how cells transmit information extracellularly with remarkable precision. Recent work in the Barna lab is also centered on understanding the molecular and cellular basis of tissue regeneration using the Axolotl as a model system. This animal has the remarkable potential for regenerating most of its body parts and we are interested in unlocking the mystery of how this regenerative potential is molecularly encoded.

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