Desirea Mecenas

Science has always been fascinating to me, but choosing it as a career option happened when I was an undergraduate studying DNA transcriptional regulation in flies. I also worked in a lab studying cancer biology, but my interests always found its way back to how genes are regulated during development as it in vital for controlling cell identity. So for my graduate work I wanted to return to gene regulation during early cell development but still try something slightly different than my undergraduate work. So I did a complete 180 and decided to focus on RNA and study post-transcriptional regulation in worms.

The 3’UTR does not encode protein, but it is important for control/regulation and depending on the regulatory elements acting on it, the 3’UTR can affect the localization translation and stability. Similar to transcriptional regulation, a cell can regulate the 3’UTR by controlling the expression of these transacting factors. However, at the level of the RNA, there is some added complexity since a transcript can have different 3’UTR isoforms thus changing the cis-acting elements. My research focuses on developmental changes in the 3’UTR isoform usage and how those changes are important in effecting its regulation during development.

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