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RNA function in germ and stem cell biology

The integrity of the genome transmitted to the next generation intrinsically relies on cells of the germline. Processes that ensure germ cell development, genomic stability, and reproductive lifespan are essential for the long-term success of a species. We are interested in characterizing spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) populations that support fertility as well the regenerative capacity of the testis throughout adult life. In addition, we tackle fundamental questions regarding the mammalian germ line and heredity from an RNA perspective. Specifically, our research explores the contribution of non-coding RNA, RNA-binding proteins and RNA modification pathways to male and female germ cell development as well as homeostatic/regenerative spermatogenesis.

Dónal O'Carroll

Group leader
Prof of Stem Cell Biology; Associate Director CRM
+44 (0)0131 651 9631
Aims and areas of interest
  • Understanding the impact of ageing and regeneration on spermatogonial stem cell populations.
  • Defining the mechanism of RNA-binding protein function in spermatogonial stem cell biology and beyond.
  • Understanding the contribution of RNA modification to the generation and metabolism of germline transcriptomes.
  • Elucidating the mechanism of PIWI-piRNA-guided de novo genome methylation during germline reprogramming.

Selected publications

  • Ivanova I, Much C, Di Giacomo M, Azzi C, Morgan M, Moreira PN, Monahan J, Carrieri C, Enright AJ, O'Carroll D. 2017. The RNA m(6)A Reader YTHDF2 Is Essential for the Post-transcriptional Regulation of the Maternal Transcriptome and Oocyte Competence.Mol Cell.
  • Morgan M, Much C, DiGiacomo M, Azzi C, Ivanova I, Vitsios DM, Pistolic J, Collier P, Moreira PN, Benes V et al.. 2017. mRNA 3' uridylation and poly(A) tail length sculpt the mammalian maternal transcriptome.Nature. 548(7667):347-351.
  • Carrieri C, Comazzetto S, Grover A, Morgan M, Buness A, Nerlov C, O'Carroll D. 2017. A transit-amplifying population underpins the efficient regenerative capacity of the testis.J Exp Med.
  • Davis MP, Carrieri C, Saini HK, van Dongen S, Leonardi T, Bussotti G, Monahan JM, Auchynnikava T, Bitetti A, Rappsilber J et al.. 2017. Transposon-driven transcription is a conserved feature of vertebrate spermatogenesis and transcript evolution.EMBO Rep.
  • Vasiliauskaite L, Vitsios D, Berrens RV, Carrieri C, Reik W, Enright AJ, O'Carroll D. 2017. A MILI-independent piRNA biogenesis pathway empowers partial germline reprogramming.Nat Struct Mol Biol.