Barbieri Group

The main aim of our group is to better understand mechanisms of leukaemogenesis, in particular childhood leukaemias, and to identify new potential therapeutic targets. Specifically we are interested in studying proteins involved in the regulation of RNA. One aspect of RNA regulation involves the covalent modification of RNA molecules. A vast array of post-synthesis modifications has been reported on every class of coding and non-coding RNAs. The majority of the identified modifications are RNA methylations. Although their biological and molecular functions are poorly understood, recently, alterations of RNA methylations have been reported in cancer, specifically in AML leukaemia. Recently, RNA binding proteins (RBPs) have emerged as an important group of gene expression regulators in cancer. Despite their number and their high abundance in various cell types, only a very small percentage of them have been functionally studied. RNA binders can regulate processing, localization and stability of mRNAs and non-coding RNA.These classes of proteins represent an unexplored family of potential therapeutic targets. In the future we will focus on expanding our understanding of RNA enzymes and RNA binding proteins functions in leukaemia. To achieve this we will perform CRISPR-CAS9 dropout focused screens in leukaemia cells and other haematological cancer models. Once we will identify a candidate target in a specific cancer model we will go on with the characterisation of its biological function and the molecular pathways involved.