Tharin Lab Research

Our Research Mission

The long-term goal of the research in my lab is the repair of damaged corticospinal circuitry. Attempts at therapeutic regeneration are limited both by the current understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the sequential generation and development of corticospinal motor neurons (CSMN) and by the current understanding of the events occurring within CSMN in the setting of spinal cord injury. A thorough understanding of the molecular controls over CSMN development might enable enhancement of corticospinal regeneration. MicroRNAs are small, non-coding RNAs that have recently been identified to regulate the expression of pathways of genes in development and disease. MicroRNAs repress their taraget genes at the messenger RNA (mRNA) level, either by degrading the mRNA or by repressing its translation. The work in my lab seeks to identify microRNA controls over the CSMN development and over CSMN response to spinal cord injury.

Major research focus areas of the laboratory

microRNA CONTROLS OVER CORTICOSPINAL MOTOR NEURON DEVELOPMENT: We have identified a group of microRNAs that are differentially expressed in CSMN compared to the highly related callosal projection neurons (CPN) during development. We are testing the ability of these microRNAs to control CSMN fate. We are also working to identify their messenger RNA targets relevant to CSMN and CPN development.

microRNA CONTROLS OVER CSMN RESPONSE TO SPINAL CORD INJURY: This work investigates microRNAs acting in CSMN in the setting of spinal cord injury. In addition, building upon our developmental work, we are investigating the potential roles of developmentally regulated microRNAs in CSMN regenerative strategies to treat spinal cord injury, including stem cell-based strategies.