Darshan Sapkota, MSC, PhD

Washington University in St. Louis (WU)

I investigate how different cell types of the central nervous system develop in early life. To ask this, I use the mouse neural retina as a model system. Previously I have identified the transcription factors Onecut1 and Onecut2 to be redundant regulators of multiple retinal cell fates. Currently, I am investigating the retinogenic role of an RNA-binding protein called Celf6 as well as cataloging the genes transcribed during the differentiation of individual retinal cell types.
I also study how heterogeneous different cell types of the brain are in terms of mRNA translation. To address this, I purify mRNAs from specific cell types using a technique called Translating Ribosome Affinity Purification. I then subject these mRNAs to ribosome footprinting where the exact positions of ribosomes on mRNAs are revealed through deep sequencing, thus enabling us to identify which mRNAs are actually being translated in a given a cell type.