Caroline Vissers

Department: Neuroscience
Start Year: 2018
Starting Institution: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Current Institution: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Project Title: m6A mRNA methylation regulates oscillatory transcription factors in neural stem cells.

Fate-determining neural transcription factors (TFs) are known to oscillate in neural stem cells. The coordination of multiple TFs and strict periodicity allows for a careful balance between stem cell maintenance and differentiation.  I have previously shown that chemical modifications on mRNA, like the methylation m6A, regulate the transcript half-lives of these fate-determining TFs, thereby regulating the ability of neural stem cells to properly differentiate. I hypothesize that the m6A tag regulates oscillatory periods by rapidly clearing mRNA to allow for a swift decline in expression. Additionally, neural stem cells lacking m6A showed delayed yet competent differentiation, which is likely caused by the altered oscillatory patterns of m6A-tagged TFs. Elucidating the molecular mechanisms behind TF expression patterns is key to our understanding of neural development and the behavior of neural stem cells.