University of Delaware

05/16/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/16/2018 17:03

Insight to the eye lens

Part of the same process is critical to cell division and development - but in those cases it does not degrade the nucleus. Instead, it remodels its envelope so that the duplicated DNA can be evenly distributed to two daughter cells. This new information about Celf1 is sure to provide new traction in other cellular research, including cancer studies.

Mello, who shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Andrew Fire for their discovery of RNA interference, said he has followed Lachke's 'exciting work' since 2012, when Lachke was awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Pew Charitable Trusts - the first awarded to a UD researcher. Mello was a Pew recipient in 1995 and now chairs the national advisory committee that selects Pew's biomedical scholars.

'Clearly Delaware has been doing an amazing job recruiting young faculty,' Mello wrote, 'as Delaware has had two additional Pew Scholarships awarded already since then - one to Dr. April Kloxin and one to Dr. Catherine Grimes.'

Lachke's research provides important new insight in a critical field of research, said Mello, distinguished professor in the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Program in Molecular Medicine and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

'Cataracts are a major cause of blindness and Dr. Lachke's work is providing fundamental new knowledge on the basic underlying mechanisms involved in eye development,' Mello wrote. 'This is extremely important work.'

And there is much more to do, Lachke said.

'This is relatively unexplored territory,' Lachke said. 'Of about 1,500 RNA-binding proteins, fewer than 100 are currently known to be directly linked to disease. We have now linked Celf1 to cataract eye disease. This will inform ophthalmic geneticists to look closely at Celf1 for possible mutations in individuals with cataracts at birth, and it will also inform cancer biologists to look into Celf1 as a candidate that can impact key factors involved in cancer.'

Among Lachke's research team were University of Delaware students Deepti Anand, Christine Dang and Atul Kakrana.

As Lachke's lab investigated the science at UD, two other collaborators and their labs were doing the same in other vertebrate models - Luc Paillard of the University of Rennes in France and his team studied frogs, while Jeffrey Gross of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and his team studied zebrafish.

Also contributing were Carole Gautier-Courteille, Vincent Legagneuax, Agnes Mereau and Justine Viet of the University of Rennes, and Linette Perez-Campos of the University of Texas-Austin.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and Retina France.

'Science is all about collaboration,' said Siddam, who now is working as a Commissioner's Fellow in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Winchester, Massachusetts office. 'That's something Salil fosters in all of his graduate students. I'm glad I had the opportunity to work in that environment. We worked as a team with those in France and Pittsburgh - and that was so wonderful. We learned so many things from each other and the scope got bigger because of all the contributions.'

About the Researcher

Salil Lachke is an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Delaware, focusing on genetic research related to organ development and disease, especially in the eye. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Pune, India, his doctorate at the University of Iowa and did postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School, where he also served as an instructor. He joined the University of Delaware faculty in 2011. His innovative research has won many awards and he is a Gerard J. Mangone Scholar and a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences.