News weake Lab 

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Blue light causes substantial changes in gene expression in young photoreceptors that involves induction of neuroprotective stress-response genes. These genome-wide RNA-seq studies are described in BMC Neuroscience in a collaborative paper headed by the senior scientist in the Weake lab, Dr. Hana Hall, and Dr. Jingqun Ma, a former graduate student in the Weake lab who is now at the University of Michigan working as a computational biologist. Other contributors include Sudanshu Shekhar, who worked on this project as a rotation student in the Weake lab, and Dr. Daniel Leon-Salas who built the blue light device.


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Splicing plays a critical role in maintaining visual function in aging photoreceptors. Many genes involved in visual function show age-associated changes in splicing patterns, and there are increased levels of unusual splicing products called circular RNAs in aging photoreceptors. This work is described in a recent study published in Aging Cell headed by Dr. Rachel Stegeman, a former Ph.D. student in the Weake lab who is now at the University of Minnesota Medical School as a postdoctoral researcher. Other contributors to the work include Dr. Hana Hall, Spencer Escobedo and Dr. Henry Chang from the Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue.

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Dr. Hana Hall has recently published studies identifying characteristic changes in gene expression in aging photoreceptors. You can read about how changes in gene expression correlate with declining visual behavior in this study published in BMC Genomics.

Other contributors in the lab to this project included Spencer Escobedo and Kaelan Brennan​, a former undergraduate in the lab who is now at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. Other collaborators on this study included Dr. Patrick Medina, Dr. Jeremiah Rounds and Christopher Vincent in Dr. Rebecca Doerge's​ group, and Dr. Daphne Cooper and Dr. Pedro Miura from the University of Reno, Nevada.

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Recently, the Weake lab have identified Cytochrome-b5 as an important neuroprotective factor​ that can attenuate lipid peroxidation in a Drosophila model of light stress. This work has been highlighted in "Fruit fly breakthrough may help human blindness research". You can listen to a radio interview with Dr. Weake describing this work from the Pulse on AMI-audio​.  Dr. Xinping Chen, a former postdoctoral research in the lab, and Dr. Hana  Hall contributed to this work. Dr. Don Ready​ and Dr. Daniel Leon-Salas at Purdue collaborated with the Weake lab on this project.

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Congratulations to Dr. Rachel Stegeman who successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis in November 2017. Rachel's thesis studies focused on splicing, gene regulation and aging. You can read about her work on spliceosomal components of the SAGA complex, or about the transcriptional signatures of aging. Dr. Stegeman is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota Medical School​.​

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Congratulations to Dr. Jingqun Ma who successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis in May 2017. Jingqun's work focused on developing and using approaches to study cell type-specific gene expression events. She developed a method to immuno-enrich KASH-GFP-tagged nuclei and subsequently applied this technique to study gene expression in glial cells from the optic lobe. Dr. Ma initially worked as a research specialist at Janelia Research Campus​ and is now employed at the University of Michigan working as a computational biologist.