My research on IME4 (Inducer of Meiosis #4, N6-Adenosine methyltransferase) has pioneered the view that the enzyme that modifies mRNA by adding a non-editing methyl group to adenosine residues (N6-methyladenosine) has a vital role in metazoan development. Since we published our studies in Drosophila, the non-editing N6m (A) RNA field has grown exponentially, producing several high-profile publications on the human (MT-A70) and murine (MTTL3) homologs. I have established a unique niche for keeping an active research program that allows undergraduate students to gain experience in most of the major genetic and molecular biology techniques while producing publishable segments of data. My lab possesses many tools to address the role of IME4 in metazoan development using genetics, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology approaches in Drosophila. In order to address the evolutionary conservation of IME4’s function, and to bring us closer to elucidating its function in higher vertebrates, I have added zebrafish to our toolbox. The current focus of the research in my lab is to investigate the degree of evolutionary conservation of the function of IME4 in metazoan development by comparing and contrasting our findings in these two evolutionarily distant model organisms. We have a highly specific anti-IME4 antibody I developed and produced in large quantities for years of research plus the highly specific antigen I designed that can be used to produce more of it in the future. This antibody detects both Drosophila IME4 and zebrafish IME4 (MTTL3) and works in Westerns, immunoprecipitation, and immunohistochemistry. Thus, my lab is in an excellent position to provide an experimental paradigm for elucidating the function of this highly conserved gene and to investigate the significance of this mRNA modification in metazoan development and disease.
Hongay, C., Jia, N., Bard, M., and Winston, F. (2002). Mot3 is a transcriptional repressor of ergosterol biosynthetic genes and is required for normal vacuolar function in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Embo J 21, 4114-4124.
Hongay, C., Grisafi, P., Galitski, T., and Fink, G. (2006) Antisense transcription controls cell fate in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Cell 127, 735-745.
Hongay, C. and Orr-Weaver, T. (2011). Drosophila Inducer of MEiosis 4 (IME4) is required for Notch signaling during oogenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 22. [Epub ahead of print]
Roach, G., Wallace, R.H., Cameron, A., Ozel, R.E., Hongay, C. , Baral, R.; Andreescu, S., and Wallace, K. (2013) Loss of ascl 1a prevents secretory cell differentiation within the zebrafish intestinal epithelium resulting in a loss of distal intestinal motility. Developmental Biology.