The Kirino Laboratory
Small Regulatory RNAs
Small regulatory RNAs have emerged recently as one of the most novel and exciting areas of gene expression regulation. Three major classes of small regulatory RNAs have been identified so far: microRNAs (miRNAs), short-interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). The overall research goal of the Kirino lab is to understand biogenesis and molecular function of the small regulatory RNAs, and use the knowledge to develop a novel therapeutic application in human diseases.
The Kirino lab is particularly focused on piRNAs, the most recently discovered small regulatory RNAs. piRNAs are 24~31 nucleotides and interact with Piwi proteins to form the core ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) of piRNPs. piRNAs and Piwi proteins are expressed predominantly in the germline of a variety of organisms and are essential for germline development. The Kirino lab is currently taking advantage of mouse, Drosophila and Bombyx systems to clarify the biogenesis and function of piRNAs, and to uncover the molecular mechanism of germline development regulated by piRNAs. Since recent studies have shown that Piwi proteins are aberrantly expressed in a variety of cancers and their expression correlates with clinical prognosis, the research project will impact biomedical goals of understanding and conquering cancers as well as reproductive system diseases.
Localization of PIWI/piRNA complex in Bombyx cells.