Dr Vihandha Wickramasinghe, MRC Cancer Unit, University of Cambridge.
Messenger (m)RNA export from the nucleus to the cytoplasm is essential for gene expression. Whether mRNA export in humans is selective, and if it can regulate a biological process is unknown. Here, I present two examples that suggest that mRNA export is selective, with pathways favouring gene regulation and DNA repair. The first example suggests that Germinal-centre Associated Nuclear Protein (GANP), may provide a 'fast-track' for the nuclear export of specific classes of mRNAs that facilitate rapid changes in gene expression. The second example provides evidence that a fundamental biological process, DNA repair, can be controlled via transcript-selective mRNA export from the nucleus (Wickramasinghe et al., Molecular Cell, 2013). Our findings raise the distinct possibility that feedback controls or signalling pathways that regulate the selectivity of the nuclear mRNA export machinery could be more widely used in human cells to regulate distinct biological processes. Furthermore, this may reveal an unexpected and generally significant mechanism for the control of patterns of gene expression from the human transcriptome.
Dr Wickramasinghe's research interests lie in characterising the molecular mechanisms of how mRNA is efficiently exported from the nucleus into the cytoplasm in mammalian cells. He did his undergraduate and honours degrees in Biomedical Science at the University of Melbourne, and moved to the University of Cambridge, UK in 2003 to do PhD and subsequent post-doctoral studies with Professor Ron Laskey, FRS. He is currently working with Professor Ashok Venkitaraman, Director of the MRC Cancer Unit at the University of Cambridge, to characterise mechanisms of selective mRNA processing and export in humans.