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Ravi Tharakan

Class 2011
Education MA, Western Michigan University

Dr. Akira Sawa

Research Interests

My research is on “micropeptides,” which are small proteins encoded by all genomes, whose functions are largely unknown. These peptides are encoded by short (<300 nucleotide) open reading frames, which greatly outnumber known genes in all organisms. These short ORFs have been historically overlooked in sequenced genomes, because they were believed not to be translated. However, recent studies using new technologies, such as ribosome profiling, have found that short ORFs are indeed translated and produce short proteins called micropeptides. These micropeptides have been shown to have various functions, such as regulation of ion channels, cellular metabolism, and DNA repair. In my thesis work, I use mass spectrometry and ribosomal profiling to discover translated micropeptides, and study their regulation and function in the context of a mouse model of mental illness