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David Turner

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Primary Appointment: Molecular & Behav Neurosc Inst
Other PIBS Depts.: Neuroscience
PubMed Name: Turner DL

  The two main areas of research in the Turner lab are microRNA-mediated control of gene expression in the mammalian nervous system and the transcriptional control of neuronal differentiation and cellular identity.

microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate the translation and/or stability of target mRNAs via sequence specific interactions, and miRNA regulation appears pervasive in the nervous system. We have developed in situ hybridization techniques for visualizing the expression of miRNAs in the mammalian nervous system, and we are using next generation deep sequencing technology to profile neural miRNAs from wild-type and mutant mice. We have used Argonaute PAR-CLIP to identify miRNA binding sites in neurons. We are using multiple molecular and functional approaches to analyze the roles and regulation of miRNAs in the developing nervous system, especially the retina.

During development, the formation of neurons is regulated in part by a family of transcription factors known as basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) proteins. Several of these bHLH proteins (e.g. MASH1, neurogenin1-3) are expressed in subsets of neural progenitor cells, and can direct the initiation of neuronal differentiation, as well as other events such as cell cycle exit. We are interested in understanding the cascade of gene expression and regulatory processes initiated by the neural bHLH proteins. We are also studying transcription factors that regulate neuronal identity in the developing retina.