The Landscape of Circular RNA Expression in the Human Brain

Dr Irina Voineagu
School of BABS, UNSW Sydney
20 April 2018 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Rountree Room 356, Level 3, Biological Sciences Building D26

This seminar will discuss our recent work investigating the expression of circular RNAs (circRNA) in the human brain. Circular RNAs are a novel class of RNA molecules that are enriched in the mammalian brain and are upregulated in response to neuronal differentiation and depolarisation. These RNA molecules, formed by non-canonical back-splicing, have both regulatory and translational potential. We recently carried out an extensive characterisation of circRNA expression in the human brain, in nearly two-hundred human brain samples, from healthy individuals and autism cases. We identify hundreds of novel circRNAs, characterise inter-individual variability of circRNA expression in the human brain, and identify brain-region specific circRNAs. We demonstrate that similarly to mRNAs, circRNA isoforms are not expressed stochastically, but rather as major isoforms, supporting their regulated expression in the human brain. We also find that circRNA expression is dynamic during brain development, decreasing with cellular maturation in brain organoids, but remains stable across the adult lifespan. These data provide a comprehensive catalogue of circRNAs and a deeper insight into their expression in the human brain.

Speaker Biography: Dr Irina Voineagu is a molecular geneticist with a research focus on neurogenetics and genomics. Her research has made significant contributions to the genetics of neurodevelopmental disorders, including work on molecular mechanisms of DNA instability, autism genomics and transcriptomics. Dr.Voineagu’s current research investigates how gene expression regulation is altered in neurodevelopmental disorders.