Daniel Cifuentes, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Virology, Immunology & Microbiology

71 east Concord Street, K420
Office: 617-358-4521
Lab: Office: 617-358-4520

B.S.    University of Barcelona
Ph.D. University of Barcelona

See BU Profile for more information and publications.

Cifuentes lab website

Our research goals in the Cifuentes laboratory aim to understand the molecular mechanisms of RNA regulation. In particular, we focus on the study of RNA-binding proteins, microRNAs, and RNA modifications to uncover their impact on small RNA biogenesis and mRNA post-transcriptional regulation. To address these goals, the lab combines high-throughput genetic, genomic, and proteomic approaches applied to two independent but technically interconnected areas: vertebrate development and viral replication, using zebrafish and filoviruses as primary model systems.

Role of post-transcriptional regulation during vertebrate embryogenesis:
The beginning of a new life is one of the most enigmatic and dynamic events in Biology. Right after fertilization, multiple cell division occur without any contribution of the transcriptionally silent genome. Therefore, the first embryonic processes are organized at post-transcriptional level. Our laboratory focuses on the study of how small RNA and RNA-binding proteins regulate mRNA stability and decay. To this end, we use zebrafish as a model system to dissect the process of post-transcriptional reprogramming within the context of a whole organism. The combination of fish embryo microinjections, together with powerful genetic, genomic, and proteomic approaches provides a unique platform to address this central question in biology.

Regulation of transcription, replication and translation in RNA viruses:
Filovirus and Arenavirus belong to the group of Viruses of Concern (VOCs) with epidemic and pandemic potential as identified by the World Health Organization. Their common feature is that these viruses have an RNA genome, and as such, RNA regulation take center stage in orchestrating the infection cycle of these viruses. In our laboratory, we investigate 1) how small RNAs and RNA binding protein govern the balance between transcription and replication in Filovirus (Ebola and Marburg virus) and 2) how secondary RNA structures and cellular factors regulate translation of viral mRNAs in Arenavirus (Lassa virus). To this end, we capitalize in our long-standing collaboration with the group of Prof. Mühlberger at the National Emerging Disease Laboratory (NEIDL) at Boston University.