Antonio J. Giraldez, PhD

Professor of Genetics; Member of the Yale Cancer Center; Member of the Stem Cell Center; Director of Graduate Studies

Research Interests

Zebrafish; Developmental Biology; RNA, Untranslated; MicroRNAs

Research Organizations

Cancer Genetics & Genomics

Center for RNA Science and Medicine, Yale

Gene Regulation and Functional Genomics

Small RNAs in Development

Stem Cell Center, Yale: Stem Cell Genetics

Research Summary

In our laboratory we use zebrafish as a model system to investigate the role of microRNAs during vertebrate development. We combine genetics, embryology, genomics, chemical and computational biology to address a central question in biology: how does a fertilized egg develop into a complex multicellular embryo. This process requires a precise spatial and temporal regulation of gene expression. MicroRNAs are ~22nt RNA molecules that repress gene expression post-transcriptionaly. More than 4% of the vertebrate genes encode microRNAs that are predicted to regulate more than 25% of the protein coding genes. Thus, microRNAs provide novel regulatory layer of unknown function with potential widespread implications in development and disease. We have generated zebrafish embryos mutant in the microRNA processing machinery (Dicer). Dicer mutants lack all microRNAs and fail to undergo normal gastrulation, brain and muscle morphogenesis.

Extensive Research Description

Two main projects are currently ongoing: 1) We have identified a novel microRNA miR-430 that accelerates the deadenylation of maternal products during embryogenesis to facilitate gastrulation. Interestingly, misexpression of the human homologues (miR-372, miR-17-93) have oncogenic potential. Thus, identification of the in vivo miR-430 targets might provide a fundamental link between development and cancer. 2) MicroRNAs are expressed at the onset of differentiation and continue to be expressed through adulthood. We have observed that miRNAs accelerate target mRNA degradation. Thus, microRNAs targets can be identified by looking at mRNAs upregulated in the absence of the microRNA. We are using microarray analysis in dicer mutant embryos to identify tissue specific microRNA targets in neurons and muscle cells. Computational projects in the lab will analyze the regulatory motifs in microRNAs and 3’UTR elements of their targets to identify the gene networks controlled by microRNAs. Combining in vivo target identification with phenotypic characterization of dicer mutants will help us to understand the function of tissue specific microRNAs during cell fate specification and tissue homeostasis.

Selected Publications

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Contact Info

Antonio J. Giraldez, PhD
Office Location
Sterling Hall of Medicine, I-Wing
333 Cedar Street, Ste Suite 142 A

New Haven, CT 06510
Mailing Address
Department of GeneticsPO Box 208005
333 Cedar Street

New Haven, CT 06520-8005

Curriculum Vitae

Giraldez' publications from Pubmed