Alexa Lampasona

SBMS Trainee: Alexa Lampasona

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Graduate Advisor: Dr. Kevin Czaplinski
Clinical Advisor: Dr. Lou Manganas
Graduate Program: Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology


Bio: Localized translation provides precise spatiotemporal control of gene expression in the nervous system. Many different RNA binding proteins regulate this process by trafficking and controlling translation of localized messenger RNAs (mRNAs). β-actin mRNA, which encodes for a component of the actin cytoskeleton, is localized in the nervous system dependent on a 'zipcode' region in the 3'-UTR. Hnrnpab was identified as a specific zipcode binding protein and affects localization of β-actin mRNA in neural precursor cells. Hnrnpab also affects cellular motility of these neural precursor cells. Cellular motility is important for neural crest cell migration after cells undergo epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) to migrate to distinct sites where they develop multiple tissue types. My thesis work will involve investigating how Hnrnpab regulates cell motility for neural crest cell migration as well as growth cone motility during neuritogenesis. Importantly, cancer cells can undergo EMT to promote metastasis. Hnrnpab has been found to promote this process in cancer cells. With the mentorship of Dr. Lou Manganas, I plan to study the role of Hnrnpab in metastatic brain cancer and investigate its potential as a novel therapeutic target.