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Neil Sprenkle

West Virginia University

Heather Pua lab

Functional non-coding RNAs called microRNAs (miRNAs) represent a central regulator contributing to the gene expression networks that support immune cell function and survival following antigenic challenges. Our preliminary RNA-sequencing data indicates that reconstituting individual miRNAs from the miR-23a-27a-24-2 and miR-23b-27b-24-1 clusters in miRNA-deficient T cells restrains T helper 2 effector cytokine production by influencing multiple processes, including ones involved in regulating cell metabolism. Based on these observations, we have developed a thesis project focused on how the aforementioned clusters orchestrate cell metabolism to limit effector immune cell activity. Because modulating metabolic pathways has been shown to profoundly impact immune cell differentiation and function, establishing how specific miRNAs regulate core metabolism would exploit unappreciated vulnerabilities that could be targeted in diseases associated with a defective immune system.