Ryder Lab * UMass Medical School

Sean Ryder, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
UMass Medical School
364 Plantation Street LRB-906
Worcester, MA, 01605

Office (LRB-906)
Lab (LRB-970W,X)


Post-transcriptional regulation in development and disease

We are interested in understanding the mechanisms that govern post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression during development and complex disease. We employ a combination of biochemical and molecular genetic methods, bioinformatics, chemical biology, biophysics, and structural analyses in our studies, with a focus on quantitative measurements and correlations between biochemical studies and functional studies in cells and animals. Our research is focused primarily in three areas:

Post-transcriptional regulation of maternal mRNAs in development

Maternal transcripts are produced and reversibly silenced in the early stages of oogenesis. In many animals, zygotic transcription does not begin until several cell divisions have occurred, after a number of patterning and cell fate specification events have taken place. Thus, activation of maternal transcripts by maternal regulatory factors provides the starting point for formation of the body plan. We are dissecting the regulatory circuitry that guides establishment and decoding of the maternal load in C. elegans.

Post-transcriptional regulation of myelin formation

In the vertebrate central nervous system, myelin is formed by specialized glial cells termed oligodendrocytes. The highly polarized nature of oligodendrocytes, together with the requirement that they sense and respond accurately to their extracellular environment, necessitates the development of strategies to control gene expression at regions distal to the cell body. These strategies influence how the cell decides where to migrate, when to stop dividing and differentiate, and which axons to myelinate. We are studying RNA-binding proteins that contribute to oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination.

Screening for small molecule inhibitors of RNA binding proteins

Small molecule inhibitors can serve as research tools to aid in the study of factors with multiple activities. In addition, for proteins with disease relevance, small molecule inhibitors can provide a starting point for the development of new therapies. We are developing assay pipelines to screen for small molecule inhibitors of RNA-binding proteins involved in cell fate specification events, with an emphasis on protein-metabolite interactions.