Reynaldo L. Garcia, PhD

The Disease Molecular Biology and Epigenetics Laboratory (DMBEL) was founded in 2011. The laboratory investigates epigenetic mechanisms responsible for inter-individual and inter-ethnic variability in drug response, as well as the functional sequelae of knocking down genes.

Research being done at the laboratory include studying the effects of knocking down the metastasis suppressor gene RKIP (Raf kinase inhibitory protein) and the tumor suppressor gene NF2 (neurofibromatosis type 2) with the aim of understanding the molecular basis of cancer pathogenesis.

MicroRNA regulation of drug-metabolizing cytochromes CYP3A4 and CYP1A2, for which there are few or no coding region polymorphisms of functional consequence, as well as their trans-regulators (notably, the pregnane X receptor or PXR and the constitutive androstane receptor or CAR genes), are of particular interest because of their implications in predicting response to drug treatment.

The effects of microRNA binding site single nucleotide polymorphisms (miRSNPs) in the 3’ untranslated regions (UTR) on the expression levels, and consequently on the function of these genes, are also being investigated in vitro using cell culture models.

New undergraduate and graduate Projects:
MicroRNA in exosome vesicles and their use in diagnostics;

Bi-/tripartite regulation of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes by microRNAs, molecular decoys and competitive endogenous RNAs; and

Extracoding RNAs and their role in methylation/demethylation.

The laboratory offers students opportunities to acquire basic and advanced laboratory skills in molecular and cellular biology.