Wei Yan: Profiling sperm RNA contents to study disease transmission

Title

Profiling sperm RNA contents

Mentor

Wei Yan

Department

Physiology and Cell Biology

Biosketch

Dr. Wei Yan (M.D. & Ph.D.) is University of Nevada, Reno Foundation Professor and Director for Single Cell Genomics & Genome Editing Core Labs at University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine. Dr. Yan received his MD from China Medical University in 1990 and PhD from University of Turku, Finland in 2000. After post-doc training at Baylor College of Medicine, he started his independent research as an Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada School of Medicine in 2004. He is currently Professor of Physiology, Cellular Biology, and Ob/Gyn at UNR. He received the 2009 Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) Young Investigator Award, the 2012 American Society of Andrology (ASA) Young Andrologist Award, the 2013 Nevada Healthcare Hero Award for Research and Technology, the 2017 University of Nevada, Reno Outstanding Researcher Award and the 2018 SSR Research Award. In May 2016, Dr. Yan was named the University of Nevada Reno Foundation Professor, the highest honor the University bestows upon its faculty. In 2017, Dr. Yan was elected as a AAAS Fellow. Dr. Yan is Editor-in-Chief of Biology of Reproduction, the official journal of the SSR. He has published >130 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters with >6,500 citations (H-index 47). His lab works on genetics and epigenetics in fertility control, and epigenetic contribution of gametes to fertilization, early embryonic development and adulthood health. For more information please visit the Yan lab website: www.weiyanlab.com.

Project Overview

Exposure to environmental chemicals can cause diseases in not only people who are exposed, but also their offspring. However, the disease transmission does not follow the Mendelian inheritance, suggesting epigenetics, rather than genetics, is the underlying mechanism. This phenomenon has been termed intra- or trans-generational epigenetic inheritance. RNAs in the gametes (sperm and eggs) have been shown to play a critical role in this atypical disease transmission. We are conducting experiments to determine whether sperm-borne RNAs are truly required for transmission of disease phenotypes induced by environmental exposure. If so, how do these RNA molecules affect the genome of offspring and induce disease phenotypes. Moreover, is there any epigenetic biomarkers for specific environmental exposure? To answer these questions, an essential first step is to profile the contents of all RNAs that sperm carry, including large and small, and linear or circular, using the next-gen sequencing technology. If you join or lab, you will have an opportunity to learn how to isolate large and small RNAs from sperm, how to determine their quality, how to construct libraries for RNA-seq, and how to analyze the data.