• Once deemed heretical, the idea of “inheritance of acquired characteristics” is now gaining evidence from multiple species, including mammals. Studies from our lab and others now promote the idea that paternally acquired phenotypes (e.g. metabolic disorders) from environmental stressors can be encoded in the form of sperm RNAs & RNA modifications as a sperm 'RNA code' (Nat Rev Endocrinol 2019, 2020) which transmit paternal phenotypes to the offspring via shaping early embryo development (Nat Rev Genet 2016; Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 2018)

The Evolving Ideas of Heredity & Hereditary Information Carriers (further read)

tRNA-derived small RNAs (tsRNAs) and rRNA-derived small RNAs (rsRNAs) are newly discovered small non-coding RNAs with diverse functions. We showed that sperm tsRNAs/rsRNAs can act as hereditary factor that contribute to the intergenerational transmission of paternally acquired metabolic disorder. Read more

embryo symmetry breaking

sperm RNA

During mammalian early embryo development, how do different lineages emerge? Are 2-cell blastomeres absolutely equal? If not, can there be even small differences at molecular levels? and if so, how do they arise at the first place and how could they get amplified to guide future cell fate? Read more
We use novel tools including SPORTSPANDORA-seq and mass spectrometry-based methods such as LC-MS/MS and MLC-seq to study how novel small RNAs (e.g., tsRNAs and rsRNAs) along with their associated RNA modifications and responsible enzymes, dynamically regulate gene expression; and when dysfunctional, cause diseases such as cancer. Read more

the 'RNA code'

Latest Lab news (More news)                            
2022.4 Our review & thoughts on exploring the expanding universe of small RNAs is published as cover story in Nature Cell Biology 
2022.4 Qi received confirmation of Tenure and promotion to Associate Professor, effective on 07/01/2022
2022.2 Qi gave seminars at UT Southwestern & USC on 'sperm RNA code' and the new exploration of tsRNAs and rsRNAs
2021.11 Xudong has passed his PhD Thesis Defense!
2021.8-10 Qi gave virtual seminars at NC State University, UIUC &  City University of Hong Kong on 'RNA code' in epigenetic inheritance & diseases 
2021.6 Junchao has passed his PhD Thesis Defense!
2021.5 Qi gave a Keynote talk at GECKO Conference 2021 on sperm RNA code and epigenetic inheritance, Junchao gave a talk introducing SPORTS and PANDORA-seq for improved small RNA identification and characterization. 
2021.5 Our new review/opinion article on the origin and evolving functionalities of tsRNAs is now online in Trends in Biochemical Sciences
2021.5 Junchao and Qi gave talks at Keystone eSymposia; and Qi gave a talk at 8th Helmholtz Diabetes Conference as HeIDi nominee.
2021.4 our new paper reporting a RNA-seq method PANDORA-seq, which expands the small RNA world by overcoming RNA modifications, is now online in Nature Cell Biology. Read our Twitter digest and News story
2021.2-3 Qi gave zoom talks at New York University, Caltech, Baylor College of Medicine, and NIH P50 center on the role of sperm RNA code in mammalian epigenetic inheritance.

Exploring the small RNA universe with new tools (futher read)