Youhna M. Ayala, PhD

Assistant Research Professor

Saint Louis University (SLU)

My group seeks to understand how RNA processing controls gene expression and why its dysfunction is associated to human disease. Our principal focus is the study of the TAR DNA binding protein (TDP-43), a central component of two devastating neurodegenerative disorders, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Strong evidence indicates that TDP-43 dysfunction leads to disease, but the associated mechanism remains unknown. In cells, TDP-43 affects gene expression by interacting with RNA and controlling RNA metabolism. Our aim is to elucidate TDP-43 function and regulation to understand the molecular mechanisms disrupted in ALS-FTD. Our work will be instrumental in the development of novel biomarkers and therapeutic strategies for disease prevention and treatment.