Allison M. Porman Swain, PhD
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Aaron M. Johnson Lab
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
I have a commitment to uncovering mechanisms of disease through basic biomedical research. From my work on RNA editing and signaling cascades in my undergraduate training, to my studies of pathogenic yeast in my graduate work and the N6-methyladenosine (m6A) RNA modification in my postdoctoral studies, I have continued to apply my knowledge and creativity to develop new ideas and discoveries. My goals are to combine my previous areas of investigation on Candida, m6A, and cancer to develop a unique comprehensive research program focusing on roles of m6A in the long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) HOTAIR and white-opaque switching and mating in Candida.
Mechanisms of RNA modifications: From modulating lncRNA function in breast cancer to regulation of Candida albicans cellular differentiation and mating
Context dependency is a major emerging theme in the field of m6A biology. Identification of m6A sites is just the beginning, because in many cases, the context dictates their function. While the role of m6A on mRNA has been well characterized in many contexts, I have only begun to resolve its role in two specific systems that my lab will continue to study.
The role of m6A on long noncoding RNAs (lncRNA) is still far from clear. I have spearheaded investigation of m6A on the lncRNA HOTAIR in breast cancer and have identified a crucial function of a single site of m6A modification in regulating gene expression and cancer biology induced by HOTAIR. I use breast cancer cells as a model for how m6A on a cancer-promoting lncRNA regulates its function and ability to induce cancer aggressiveness.
While the conserved methyltransferase IME4 regulates meiosis in multiple related yeast species, what is its function in a pathogenic species like Candida albicans that lacks a conventional meiosis? My collaborations have identified a role for IME4 in regulation of a cell differentiation program (white-opaque switching) that regulates mating. Using this non-conventional medically relevant “model” system, my lab will investigate mechanisms of the m6A RNA modification in this prevalent human fungal pathogen.
Porman AM, Roberts JT, Chrupcala M, Kennedy M, Williams MM, Richer JK, Johnson AM. A single N6-methyladenosine site in lncRNA HOTAIR regulates its function in breast cancer cells. In review at PLoS Biology. bioRxiv 2020.06.08.140954 (May 2021); doi:10.1101/2020.06.08.140954
Roberts, JT, Porman, AM & Johnson, AM. Identification of m6A residues at single-nucleotide resolution using eCLIP and an accessible custom analysis pipeline. RNA (2020). doi:10.1261/rna.078543.120
Porman AM, Hirakawa MP, Jones, SK Jr, Wang N, & Bennett, RJ. MTL-independent phenotypic switching in Candida tropicalis and a dual role for Wor1 in regulating switching and filamentation. PLoS Genet. 2013 Mar;9(3):e1003369. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003369.