Welcome to the Ahn Lab!

Welcome to the Ahn lab at the University of Alabama at Birmingham! We study the molecular mechanisms of gene expression in various cellular systems and disease conditions. We love to explore the world of “DNA and RNA” to better understand stemness, differentiation and tumorigenesis.

Research Overview

Our lab is interested in the regulatory mechanisms of gene expression and their roles in cancer and genetic diseases. Particularly, we study how epigenetic regulation of transcription and alternative RNA splicing contribute to human development and initiation/progression of diseases.

One of our main research interests is the biological and clinical significance of SON (SON DNA and RNA-binding protein) in cancer. We study how SON is functionally connected with other DNA- and RNA-binding proteins in the cells, and how dysregulation of SON contributes to abnormal transcription and alternative RNA splicing associated with leukemia and brain tumors.

Recently, our lab identified the pathogenic and causative role of SON mutations in human patients with developmental delay, intellectual disability and other complex clinical symptoms (ZTTK syndrome). As the primary research group supporting the ZTTK SON-Shine Foundation, we are continuing our work to understand how SON mutations affect development and the functional maintenance of various organs/tissues, including hematopoietic/immune system and brain/neuronal system with the goal of finding potential therapies.

Another research area of our lab is functional characterization of novel noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) in cancer, particularly in cancer metastasis. We love to explore novel ncRNAs to understand how they interact with DNA, RNA and proteins to regulate cancer initiation/progression.

Major techniques and skills that we use in this lab:

  • Genetically engineered mouse models of cancer and genetic diseases (mouse models of gene knockout and overexpression)
  • Analysis of hematopoietic differentiation (hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells)
  • Molecular biology / Biochemistry tools (qRT-PCR, RT-PCR-based analysis of RNA splicing, RACE to identify novel transcripts, Western blot, Immunoprecipitation, Northern blot)
  • Cell Biology tools (primary cell culture, immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, microscopy)
  • Lentivirus-mediated gene transduction
  • Flow cytometry
  • Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)
  • RNA immunoprecipitation (CLIP)
  • Genomic techniques:
    • RNA-sequencing
    • single-cell RNA-sequencing
    • ChIP-sequencing
    • eCLIP-sequencing
    • Sequencing data analysis (transcriptome, alternative splicing)
    • Long-read RNA-sequencing