Ashleigh Whelan

How do we make and process the RNA involved in DNA repair?

About me

I completed my undergraduate studies in Biochemistry and Microbiology at the University of Sheffield. During this time, I developed an avid interest in cell and molecular biology and the links between DNA damage and disease development. This project excites me as I will be utilising cell and molecular biology techniques to generate a series of conditional gene knockouts to investigate the effects of loss-of-function of specific genes on the cell system. This information could then be used to help develop treatments for various conditions caused by the loss of these genes such as cancer and many neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. 


My project

My project aims to investigate the role of RNA in the assembly and activity of DNA repair mechanisms at sites of DNA damage. I will be using CRISPR engineering to develop human cell lines containing conditional knockouts of genes of interest, that can then be investigated to see the consequences of their loss-of-function. Through a combination of RNA interference (RNAi) and the use of auxin-inducible degrons (AIDs), I will investigate the effects of depleting hNRNPUL1 (a ribonucleoprotein thought to be involved in transcription) on the cell’s ability to repair DNA damage and any effects that this will then have on downstream processes. Similarly, I also aim to generate a cell line that can be used to investigate the function of the related protein hNRNPUL2, and how it interacts with hNRNPUL1 to induce DNA repair.