Victoria Chiwara

I am a data nerd applying my academic background (MSc. in Human Genetics and a BHSc. in Biomedical Studies) to bridge the gap between clinical research and communication. As a medical/scientific writer, I aim to effectively communicate esoteric scientific data using clear, engaging graphical representations. I am meticulous and use programming languages (R, SQL) to analyze data and formulate key messages.

RNA strand exchange by the Drosophila Polycomb complex PRC2

Polycomb Group (PcG) proteins form a memory of transient transcriptional repression that is necessary for development. In Drosophila, DNA elements termed Polycomb Response Elements (PREs) recruit PcG proteins. How PcG activities are targeted to PREs to maintain repressed states only in appropriate developmental contexts has been difficult to elucidate. PcG complexes modify chromatin, but also interact with both RNA and DNA, and RNA is implicated in PcG targeting and function. Here we show that R-loops form at many PREs in Drosophila embryos, and correlate with repressive states.

Regulatory interaction between the ZPBP2-ORMDL3/Zpbp2-Ormdl3 region and the circadian clock

Genome-wide association study (GWAS) loci for several immunity-mediated diseases (early-onset asthma, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), primary biliary cholangitis, and rheumatoid arthritis) map to chromosomal region 17q12-q21. The predominant view is that the association between 17q12-q21 alleles and increased risk of developing asthma or IBD is due to regulatory variants. ORM sphingolipid biosynthesis regulator (ORMDL3) residing in this region is the most promising gene candidate for explaining association with disease. However, the relationship between 17q12-q21 alleles and disease is complex suggesting contributions from other factors, such as trans-acting genetic and environmental modifiers or circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms regulate expression levels of thousands of genes and their dysregulation is implicated in the etiology of several common chronic inflammatory diseases. However, their role in the regulation of the 17q12-q21 genes has not been investigated.

RNA strand invasion activity of the Polycomb complex PRC2

Epigenetic regulation is conveyed through information encoded by specific chromatin features. Non-canonical nucleic acid structures could in principle also convey biological information but their role(s) in epigenetic regulation is not known. Polycomb Group (PcG) proteins form a memory of transient transcriptional repression events that are necessary for development. In Drosophila, PcG proteins are recruited to specific DNA sequences, Polycomb Response Elements (PREs). PREs are switchable memory elements that can exist in repressed, active, or unengaged states. How PcG activities are targeted to PREs to maintain repressed states only in appropriate developmental contexts has been difficult to elucidate. Biochemically, PcG protein complexes modify chromatin to maintain gene repression.

Loss of the zona pellucida-binding protein 2 (Zpbp2) gene in mice impact airway hypersensitivity and lung lipid metabolism in a sex-dependent fashion

The human chromosomal region 17q12–q21 is one of the best replicated genome-wide association study loci for childhood asthma. The associated SNPs span a large genomic interval that includes several protein-coding genes. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the zona pellucida-binding protein 2 (ZPBP2) gene residing in this region contributes to asthma pathogenesis using a mouse model. We tested the lung phenotypes of knock-out (KO) mice that carry a deletion of the Zpbp2 gene.
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