Department of Biology & Biochemistry

Keith Vance



Tel: +44(0)1225 385106

4 South 0.60A

Dr Keith Vance


Research interests

The mammalian genome contains many thousand non-coding RNA (ncRNA) loci in addition to protein coding genes. Long ncRNAs (lncRNAs) are a class of polymerase II transcribed ncRNA molecules, greater than 200 nucleotides in length, which do not code for protein. LncRNA loci can be genomically located within exons or introns, transcribed in a sense or anti-sense orientation relative to protein coding genes, or they may be intergenic.

The function of the vast majority of these transcripts is unknown. Nuclear localised intergenic lncRNAs, however, are emerging as an important class of transcriptional and chromatin regulators with proposed roles in the control of normal cellular growth and differentiation as well as in cancer. These transcripts were originally discovered to function in cis to regulate the expression of nearby genes on the same chromosome. However, it is now apparent that lncRNAs can function in trans to regulate large scale gene expression programmes across multiple chromosomes and on different alleles from where they are expressed.

The focus of my research is to:

  1. Identify novel lncRNA transcriptional regulators of growth and differentiation from a dataset of vertebrate conserved central nervous system expressed lncRNAs.
  2. Characterise the role of lncRNAs in regulating melanoma growth and invasion, an extremely aggressive type of skin cancer.
  3. Investigate the genome-wide transcriptional regulatory functions of trans-acting lncRNAs, to determine the general principles of lncRNA genomic targeting and their mechanisms of transcriptional and chromatin regulation.


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