News / 6 March 2020

EMBL Australia group leader Dr Robert Weatheritt and Associate Professor Irina Voineagu have been awarded a $470,000 Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant to investigate the biogenesis and function of circular RNAs in the brain.

Dr Weatheritt (hosted at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research) and A/Prof Voineagu (from the University of New South Wales) will begin working on this exciting research, which involves collaborating with researchers in the United States, later this month.

A summary of the research, funded for three years and titled “Investigating the biogenesis and function of circular RNAs in the brain”, is below:

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a novel class of RNA molecules produced in a wide spectrum of eukaryotic organisms, from yeast to humans. Their expression is particularly high in the nervous system in the fruit fly, mouse and humans. What mechanisms are responsible for the tissue-specific enrichment of circular RNA expression? What are the consequences of circular RNA production on gene expression? The overall goal of the proposed project is to elucidate these important aspects of circRNA biogenesis. Specifically, the project aims to (a) discover proteins that regulate circRNA expression, (b) elucidate how circRNA expression interacts with alternative splicing, and (c) identify circular RNAs that play regulatory roles in gene expression.

Congratulations, Robert!