School of Medicine

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  • Ximena Corso Díaz

    Ximena Corso Díaz

    Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology

    Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWe are interested in unraveling the roles of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) and regulatory RNAs in retinal development and homeostasis.

    RNA-binding proteins mediate functional integration of transcriptional and post-transcriptional machineries influencing various aspects of gene expression and RNA metabolism. Several RBPs have cell-type enriched expression patterns in the retina or cause blinding diseases, however their role in retinal development and function is poorly understood. We have identified several RBPs that interact with the photoreceptor-specific transcription factor NRL and are likely involved in development and homeostasis of this retinal cell-type. We are pursuing the following lines of research:

    1) RBPs in retinal development and degeneration. We will study the role of RBPs in regulating retinal development and maintaining homeostasis. We will focus on RBPs enriched in the retina, their interactions with retinal transcription factors like NRL, and their relevance to retinal diseases.

    2) RBPs in R-loop regulation in the retina. R-loops are triple-stranded structures created when RNA anneals to one of the strands of the DNA duplex. R-loops have many regulatory roles during gene expression and their dysregulation can be detrimental to genome integrity. We observed that R-loops are dynamic during retinal development and identified key R-loop-associated RBPs that are enriched in rod photoreceptors and that interact with the transcription factor NRL. We will study the role of R-loops and their regulatory RBPs in retinal development and homeostasis.

    3) Chromatin-associated regulatory RNAs through the retina lifespan. Chromatin-associated RNAs contribute to the dynamic regulation of gene expression, chromatin structure, and genome organization, playing essential roles in various biological processes, including development, differentiation, and disease. We will study how regulatory RNAs, together with their cognate RBPs, influence expression programs and chromatin dynamics through the retina lifespan.