Gene silencing is an essential mechanism for regulation and genome defense. C. elegans uses many different classes of small RNAs (eg. siRNAs, piRNAs) for gene regulation and protection against invasive and repetitive DNA. Small RNA mediated epigenetic silenced states can be maintained and transgenerationally inherited by successive generations. To counteract silencing mechanisms, there are protective pathways that recognize endogenous genes and protects them from aberrant silencing. How do genome regulatory mechanisms discriminate between "self" and "non-self" remains an open question. Using C. elegans as a model system and synthetic DNA tools, I am interested in developing simple techniques to understand the balance between silencing and protective mechanisms.
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