This project represents a collaboration of the Rokosh Lab at the Department of Medicine – Cardiovascular Disease and the Absher Lab at HudsonAlpha.
Rokosh’s research focuses on identifying mechanisms underlying the severely limited regenerative capacity of the heart, which is then used to develop therapeutic approaches to reconstitute regeneration and repair. Ongoing research has identified novel mechanisms that contribute to cardiac myocyte proliferation during the regenerative phase of cardiac development, which is absent in the non-regenerative adult myocardium, and in the maturation of new myocytes. A gene therapy approach to reconstitute this mechanism in hope of reactivating regeneration in the adult heart has been shown to prevent cardiac dysfunction and adverse remodeling after injury. The collaborative project will provide direct insights into genomic and epigenomic regulation that contribute to the tissue- and development-specific regulation of these factors. These studies will identify gene regulatory elements responsible for controlling these fundamental changes in expression and the changes in DNA structure that contribute to this regulation. Importantly, the whole genome perspective made available in the UAB-HudsonAlpha collaboration will significantly enhance Rokosh’s ability to identify other novel and relevant mechanisms, essential for continued advancement of regenerative medicine.