Staff – University of Copenhagen

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Disa Elisabet Tehler

Disa Elisabet Tehler

Assistant professor

One of the most important and unexpected biological findings over the last decade was the realisation that the vast majority of the mammalian genome is actively transcribed at some stage in development despite the lack of translation into protein. Recent reports estimate that at as much as 80% of the genome is actively transcribed into RNA, but only 1-2% consists of protein-coding genes that, in fact, only amounts to 20000 in number. The widespread transcription gives rise to numerous classes of ncRNA that have an enormous potential to orchestrate spatial and temporal gene expression. 

Primary fields of research

non coding RNA, cancer, tRNA, snoRNA

Current research

Recently, a massive progress in the field of RNA research have revealed that a vast number of miRNAs and long ncNRAs have important funcions and are differentially regulated in various cellular processes as well as in diseases, such as cancer. However, so far, relatively little focus has been set towards "classical" ncRNAs, such as tRNA, snoRNA and rRNA, which are presumed to have already well known functions. Nevertheless, interesting aspects of these ancient ncRNAs are starting to emerge. For instance, smaller fragments deriving from these groups of ncRNAs can be incorporated into Argonaute (Ago) and the miRNA pathways and, specific cleavage of tRNAs can be related to inhibition of translational initiation as well as apoptosis. Furthermore, both tRNAs and snoRNAs have been shown to be differentially regulated in cancer and we have recently shown that tRNA deregulation can have an impact of the translation efficiency of specific functional groups of genes (paper accepted to Cell).

Furthermore, we have evidence that a large group of small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) are extensively deregulated in human cancers as well as in various model systems of proliferation, differentiation and senescence. In my current research project we have set out to investigate the role and function of snoRNA differential regulation and how they contribute to various cellular functions such translation and cell growth .


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