Alex Flynt, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Research in my lab focuses on RNA biology and the regulation of gene expression. Current projects are concerned with how cells make small regulatory RNAs. These molecules enact RNA interference, which causes expression of genes stop. The objective of our research is to refine technology based on RNA interference to make better tools for scientists to control gene expression.
A lot of work in my lab is done with fruit flies. This animal is a prominent genetic system where there are lots of powerful “tricks” scientists can use. I am also interested in working with other creatures to understand how RNA interference might differ in them. We also grow animal cells in petri dishes, which lets us easily add or subtract expression of genes. We grow cells taken out of both insects and mammals.
Students in my lab will get exposed to lots of great, cutting-edge technologies. They will learn how to manipulate DNA to create artificial genes, and how to put them in animal cells. Students will also help make mutant animals, and assist in figuring out how genes influence normal development. During these studies there will be opportunities to learn how to use advanced microscope. I also would welcome students who are interested in learning bioinformatics to check out my lab. A large part of our work uses next generation, high-throughput, whole-genome, DNA sequencing technologies to understand small RNA biology. Analysis of this data is heavily computer based.
I also want students to know that I feel undergraduates are very valuable members of the laboratory, and that I am always looking for enthusiastic, committed individuals to join my group.

Peer-reviewed Articles
(1) Mohammed J, Flynt AS, Seipel A, Lai EC. (2013) The impact of age, biogenesis, and genomic clustering on Drosophila microRNA evolution. RNA. Jul 23.
(2) Jin Z, Flynt AS, Lai EC. (2013) Drosophila piwi mutants exhibit germline stem cell tumors that are sustained by elevated Dpp signaling. Curr Biol 5;23(15) 1442-8.
(3) Ladewig E, Okamura K, Flynt AS, Westholm, JO, Lai EC. (2012) Discovery of hundreds of mirtrons in mouse and human small RNA data. Genome Research 22, 1634-1645.
(4) Yao J, Hennessey T, Flynt AS, Lai EC, Beal MF, Lin MT. (2010) MicroRNA-related cofilin abnormality in Alzheimer’s disease. PLoS One, 16;5(12):e15546.
(5) Flynt AS, Greimann JC, Chung W, Lima CC, and Lai EC. (2010) Drosophila 3’ tailed-mirtrons generate microRNAs via splicing and exosome-mediated trimming. Mol Cell, 38(6): 900-7.
(6) Berezikov E, Liu N, Flynt AS, Hodges E, Rooks M, Hannon GJ, and Lai EC. (2010) Evolutionary flux of canonical microRNAs and mirtrons in Drosophila. Nat Genet, 42(1): 6-9.
(7) Qiu R, Liu K, Liu Y, Mo W, Flynt AS, Patton JG, Kar A, Wu JY, He R. (2009) The role of miR-124a in early development of the Xenopus Eye. Mech Dev, 126(10): 804-16.
(8) Flynt AS, Thatcher EJ, Burkewitz K, Li N, Liu Y, and Patton JG. (2009) miR-8 microRNAs regulate the response to stress in Zebrafish embryos. J Cell Biol (Cover article), 185(1): 115-27.
(9) Flynt AS, Liu N, Martin R, Lai EC. (2009) Dicing of viral replication intermediates during silencing of latent Drosophila viruses. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 106(13): 5270-5.
(10) Li N, Flynt AS, Kim HR, Solnica-Krezel L, and Patton JG. (2008) Dispatched homolog 2 is targeted by miR-214 through a combination of three weak microRNA recognition sites. Nucleic Acids Res, 36(13): 4277-85.
(11) Thatcher EJ, Flynt AS, Li N, and Patton JG. (2007) miRNA expression analysis during normal Zebrafish development and following inhibition of the hedgehog and notch signaling pathways. Developmental Dynamics, 236(8): 2172-2180.
(12) Tillman JE, Yuan J, Gu G, Fazli L, Ghosh R, Flynt AS, Gleave M, Rennie PS, and Kasper S. (2007) DJ-1 binds androgen receptor directly and mediates its activity in hormonally treated prostate cancer cells. Cancer Res, 67(10): 4630-4637.
(13) Flynt AS, Li N, Thatcher EJ, Solnica-Krezel L, and Patton JG. (2007) Zebrafish miR-214 modulates hedgehog signaling to specify muscle cell fate. Nat Genet, 39(2): 259-263.
(14) Ryther RCC, Flynt AS, Harris BD, Phillips JA III, and Patton JG. (2004) Splicing of GH1 is regulated by multiple enhancers whose mutation produces a dominant-negative GH isoform that can be degraded by allele-specific siRNA. Endocrinology, 145(6): 2988-2996.

Review Articles and Book Chapters
(1) Flynt AS, and Lai EC. (2011) RNAi in Xenopus: look before you leap. Genes and Development 25(11): 1105-8.
(2) Flynt AS, and Patton JG. (2010) Crosstalk between planar cell polarity signaling and miR-8 control NHERF-1 mediated actin reorganization. Cell Cycle 26;9(2)
(3) Flynt AS, and Lai EC, (2008) Biological principles of microRNA-mediated regulation: shared themes amid diversity. Nat Rev Genet, 9(11): 831-42.
(4) Flynt AS, Thatcher EJ, and Patton JG. (2009) RNA interference and microRNAs in zebrafish. In: Regulation of Gene Expression by Small RNAs. Rossi JJ and Gaur R. editors. CRC Press.
(5) Ryther RCC, Flynt AS, Phillips JA III, and Patton JG. (2004) siRNA therapeutics; big potential from small RNAs. Gene Therapy, 12: 5-11.