Luiz O. Penalva, Ph.D.

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RNA binding proteins (RBPs) and miRNAs play a major role in gene expression by controlling all stages of mRNA processing, its transport, localization, decay and translation. My laboratory studies post-transcriptional regulation from a global perspective.We use a combination of genomics, systems biology, bioinformatics and molecular biology to investigate the networks formed by RNA binding proteins and miRNAs and their connection to biological processes and diseases states. 

Major components of my research program include:   

- Screening and characterization of RBPs and miRNAs implicated in neuronal stem cell function and brain tumors.
- Construction of a regulatory map for neuronal differentiation and response to neuronal stress.
- Development and improvement of methods for miRNA/RBP target identification and functional outcome.
- Development of RNA based approaches for therapy

Selected Publications

Saleh T, Vo DT, Uren PJ, Bindewald E, Wojciech KK,  Shapiro BA, Qiao M, Nakaya HI, Burns SC, Nakano I, Kuersten S, Smith AD, Penalva LOF. High-throughput analysis of miR-137 in glioblastoma cells reveals a complex network of targets associated with malignant transformation and neuronal differentiation. PLoS ONE  2014 Jan 22;9(1):e85591. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085591

A, Dubuc AM, Northcott PA, Smith AD, Pfister SM, Taylor MD, Janga SC, Anant S, Vogel C, Penalva LO. The RNA-binding protein Musashi1 affects medulloblastoma growth via a network of cancer-related genes and is an indicator of poor prognosis. Am J Pathol. 2012 Nov;181(5):1762-72.

Vo DT, Abdelmohsen K, Martindale JL, Qiao M, Tominaga K, Burton TL, Gelfond JA, Brenner AJ, Patel V, Trageser D, Scheffler B, Gorospe M, Penalva LO. The oncogenic RNA-binding protein Musashi1 is regulated by HuR via mRNA translation and stability in glioblastoma cells. Mol Cancer Res. 2012 Jan;10(1):143-55.

Vo DT, Qiao M, Smith AD, Burns SC, Brenner AJ, Penalva LO. The oncogenic RNA-binding protein Musashi1 is regulated by tumor suppressor miRNAs. RNA Biol. 2011 Sep-Oct;8(5):817-28.

Vogel C, Abreu Rde S, Ko D, Le SY, Shapiro BA, Burns SC, Sandhu D, Boutz DR, Marcotte EM, Penalva LO. Sequence signatures and mRNA concentration can explain two-thirds of protein abundance variation in a human cell line. Mol Syst Biol. 2010 Aug 24;6:400.

Associate Professor
GCCRI/Cell Systems and Anatomy


Ph.D., Molecular Biology, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, 1996

M.S., Biochemistry, University of Sao Paulo, 1992

B.S., Biology, University of Sao Paulo, 1989



Phone: (210) 562-9049

Research Profile
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Graduate Students

Adam Kosti