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Eric Miska

miskaEric Miska PhD, Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Genetics, Cancer Research UK Senior Research Fellow, Member of the Department of Genetics and Affiliated Faculty Member of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Miska Group website | Europe PMC | Pubmed


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Non-coding RNA and genome dynamics

2016 MiskaWhat does non-coding RNA do in development and disease? Most of the RNA transcribed from the DNA in our genome is not translated into protein but instead has direct functions in regulating biological processes.

This paradigm shift in nucleic acid biology has been supported by technical advances in high-throughput sequencing, molecular genetics and computational biology, which can be combined with more traditional biochemical analyses.

Many species and roles of non-coding RNA have been identified. Our goal is to understand how non-coding RNAs regulate development, physiology and disease. We are exploring microRNA in the pathology of cancer and other diseases, RNA interference in viral immunity, Piwi- interacting RNA in germline development and genome integrity, and endogenous small interfering RNA in epigenetic inheritance – where we predict a big impact in understanding human health. Our model organisms are the nematode worm, mouse and human cell culture. More recently we have started using comparative genomics and de- novo genome sequencing of African cichlid fish to unravel the role of non-coding RNA in evolution. 

Selected publications:

• Cording A et al. (2016) Selective inhibitors of trypanosomal uridylyl transferase RET1 establish druggability of RNA post-transcriptional modifications. RNA Biol. Jan 20:1-9. DOI:10.1080/15476286.2015.1137422 [Epub ahead of print] 

• Malinsky M et al. (2015) Genomic islands of speciation separate cichlid ecomorphs in an East African crater lake. Science. 350(6267):1493-8.

• Ashe A et al. (2015) Antiviral RNA Interference against Orsay Virus Is neither Systemic nor Transgenerational in Caenorhabditis elegans. J Virol. 89(23):12035-46.

• Sapetschnig A et al. (2015) Tertiary siRNAs mediate paramutation in C. elegans. PLoS Genet. 11(3):e1005078. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005078.

• Sarkies P et al. (2015) Ancient and novel small RNA pathways compensate for the loss of piRNAs in multiple independent nematode lineages. PLoS Biol. 13(2): e1002061. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002061. 

• Gapp K et al. (2014) Implication of sperm RNAs in transgenerational inheritance of the effects of early trauma in mice. Nat Neuroscience 17(5): 667–669.

• Ashe A et al. (2012) piRNAs can trigger a multigenerational epigenetic memory in the germline of C. elegans. Cell, 150, 88 - 99


Video: Meet Eric Miska

Plain English

My laboratory is investigating how cells decide to divide to generate all the cells of the body, to become different from each other to form different tissues such as muscle brain or blood. If cells get these decisions wrong, cancer may be the consequence. Our particular focus is a class of small regulatory genes (microRNAs) that act like molecular switches and control many aspects of development and are likely directly involved in human cancer. To better understand the biology of microRNAs we are studying a very simple animal, the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, as well as human cancer cells.


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