Francisco Naya

Associate Professor of Biology

  • Title Associate Professor of Biology
  • Education B.A., Boston University
    Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine

Our lab focuses on gene regulatory networks in muscle development and disease. Defining these networks in differentiation and homeostasis can yield insight into the molecular mechanisms that drive pathological gene expression in cardiac and skeletal muscle diseases. Our lab has addressed this problem using a systems-level approach to dissect the intricate gene regulatory function of the mammalian MEF2 transcription factors, an evolutionarily conserved transcription factor family and core regulator of muscle gene programs. Detailed investigation of MEF2-dependent gene programs led to the identification of an imprinted noncoding RNA locus (Dlk1-Dio3). This locus encodes numerous long (lncRNAs) and small (miRNAs, snoRNAs) noncoding RNAs which are involved in skeletal muscle differentiation and regeneration, and in cardiomyocyte proliferation. We have also shown that expression of the Dlk1-Dio3 noncoding RNA locus is dysregulated in cardiac and skeletal myopathies. Understanding how this transcription factor-noncoding RNA regulatory network functions in muscle may ultimately lead to the development of novel treatments for cardiac and skeletal myopathies.

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