Within the cell, most RNA is produced from our DNA (genes) and translated to make proteins that help the cell function. microRNAs are produced from DNA but don’t make proteins. Instead, microRNAs ensure that the right genes are translated under the right conditions. microRNAs work in the immune system by helping a type of white blood cell, known as a T-cell, which regulate the production of antibodies that bind and destroy cellular invaders. The set of microRNAs that Dr. Ansel and his lab studies regulate genes that let T-cells recognize their environment and start the production of the correct antibodies. He has found that without these microRNAs, T-cells cannot properly mediate immunity. Dr. Ansel's work has important implications in understanding the immune system and what possibly goes wrong in diseases like HIV and AIDS. At the end of our interview, he talks about what motivates him most in science—the thrill of discovery.
More on the Ansel Lab's research
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