John Liu (BMS) and Max Horlbeck (Biophysics), both in the MSTP enrolling class of 2011, recently had their first author publication accepted to Science. UCSF News also wrote a terrific piece on their research, which you can read over at the UCSF News website.
Here's the abstract of their publication, "CRISPRi-based genome-scale identification of functional long noncoding RNA loci in human cells":
The human genome produces thousands of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) – transcripts >200 nucleotides long that do not encode proteins. While critical roles in normal biology and disease have been revealed for a subset of lncRNAs, the function of the vast majority remains untested. Here, we developed a CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) platform targeting 16,401 lncRNA loci in 7 diverse cell lines including 6 transformed cell lines and human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Large-scale screening identified 499 lncRNA loci required for robust cellular growth, of which 89% showed growth modifying function exclusively in one cell type. We further found that lncRNA knockdown can perturb complex transcriptional networks in a cell type-specific manner. These data underscore the functional importance and cell type-specificity of many lncRNAs.
Please congratulate John and Max on their achievement!