Webinar Recording: Mapping Long Noncoding RNA Dependencies in Tumor Cells Using CRISPR interference viability screens

Speakers: Eugenio Morelli, M.D., Instructor in Medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute & Harvard Medical School and Paul Diehl, Ph.D., COO, Cellecta


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A fundamental question in cancer biology is to define the key oncogenic features of long non-protein coding RNAs (lncRNAs). These regulatory RNA molecules can exert function at multiple levels, from DNA replication to transcriptional and translational control, affecting all aspects of cellular biology. Remarkably, cancer cells can become dependent on specific lncRNAs for their growth and survival, with this dependency being amenable to therapeutic intervention using optimized RNA medicine strategies.

Here, I will discuss our recent use of CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) to systematically map the lncRNA “dependencies” featuring multiple myeloma (MM). Focusing on the MM-promoting lncRNA RNA Regulator of Lipogenesis (RROL), I will also describe in vitro and in cellulo molecular assays to dissect the mechanism of action of lncRNAs in cancer cells. Finally, I will describe our optimized platform to pre-clinically develop antisense inhibitors of lncRNAs and their testing in clinically-relevant xenograft models.

This webinar will provide conceptual and technical insights to identify and characterize functional lncRNAs in specific cancer contexts.

 A brief overview of Cellecta's products and services follows the presentation.

Key Takeaways:

  • CRISPRi is a powerful tool to identify functional lncRNAs in specific cancer contexts.
  • LncRNAs provide growth-dependency in multiple myeloma.
  • LncRNAs cooperate with transcription factors and epigenetic modulators to modulate gene expression.
  • LncRNAs are actionable targets for therapeutic application. 


Eugenio Morelli, M.D., is a junior faculty at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. He earned his medical degree (2011) and completed a clinical research fellowship in medical oncology (2017) at Magna Graecia University (Catanzaro, Italy) under the mentorship of Dr. Pierfrancesco Tassone. In 2017, he joined the Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA, USA), where he has been working since then under the mentorship of Dr. Nikhil Munshi.

Dr. Morelli's research interest is to decode the key oncogenic features of noncoding RNAs (ncRNA) to inform the development of ncRNA-based therapeutic approaches in multiple myeloma. He has a demonstrated record of accomplished and productive research projects in this area of investigation, having pioneered the use of primary miRNA therapeutics of human cancer and generated the first comprehensive map of ncRNA dependencies in myeloma. His projects are currently funded by competitive career development awards including the American Society of Hematology Scholar Fellow to Faculty Award, the International Myeloma Foundation Brian D Novis Award and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center SPORE in Multiple Myeloma Career Enhancement Award. He is an active member of the American Society of Hematology and the International Myeloma Society, by which has been awarded the IMS Young Investigator Award 2019 and 2021. 

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Please email info@cellecta.com with any comments.

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