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Tariq Rana

Title(s)Professor, Pediatrics
SchoolVc-health Sciences-schools
Address9500 Gilman Drive #0762
La Jolla CA 92093
Phone8/2-46--1100
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    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse Overview
    RNA Biology and Immunobiology

    We are a multidisciplinary laboratory focused on discovering fundamental mechanisms of RNA biology that regulate the immune response to viral infections and cancer, and the host response to immunotherapy. We are located in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California. The lab is also associated with the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Genetics, Institute for Genomic Medicine, Moores Cancer Center, Center for Drug Discovery Innovation, and the Biomedical Sciences Program of UCSD.

    We are investigating the structure and function of RNA-associated cellular machineries involved in immune regulation during the host response to viral infection and cancer, as well as to immunotherapy. Our team has helped to uncover numerous functions of regulatory RNA assemblies in gene silencing, stem cell biology, cancer, immunity, and host–pathogen interactions. In addition, our reports describing genome-wide dynamics of m6A modification of both human and viral RNA during infection with HIV and Zika virus pioneered the new field of epitranscriptomics in virology and immunology. We employ multidisciplinary approaches involving chemistry and biology and, as part of our commitment to translational research, we routinely collaborate with clinicians. Several of the technologies invented and developed by our group have launched biotech companies and have been used to develop small molecule and biologic therapeutics currently in clinical trials.

    Here are some examples of three distinct yet interconnected projects currently being pursued in our laboratory:
    (1) The recent success of immune checkpoint therapies has transformed our approach to cancer treatment and has galvanized hopes that cures for many types of cancer and, potentially, other diseases are on the horizon. Despite the success of FDA-approved biological therapies targeting CTLA-4 and the PD-L1/PD-1 checkpoints in some cancers, many patients do not respond and the tumors are able to escape therapy. Therefore, we are investigating the fundamental mechanisms that determine whether the host immune system undergoes immune exhaustion leading to tumor evasion or mounts a durable immune response during immunotherapy to various cancers.
    (2) One key aspect of the development of AIDS in HIV-infected individuals is exhaustion of the immune system, resulting in an inability to clear infection. However, it is not clear how HIV induces the reprogramming of immune cell populations that culminates in exhaustion. We are currently deciphering the molecular events underlying T cell exhaustion in diverse subsets of HIV-infected individuals.
    (3) RNA epigenetics or epitranscriptomics is an emerging field focused on nucleotide modifications in RNA. One such modification is N6-methylation of adenosine (m6A), which plays important roles in regulating RNA metabolism and gene expression. We are interested in understanding how RNA modifications affect the immune system during viral infections and in the development of cancer, primarily glioblastoma.

    As a translational research lab, a crucially important aspect of our work is to design and develop novel therapies based on our research findings. The projects outlined above will undoubtedly identify fundamental processes that regulate the immune system in physiological and pathological situations. The knowledge gained and technologies generated during these studies could provide new opportunities to develop novel ‘personalized medicines’ such as disease-specific rejuvenated T cells, as well as therapies with broader uses such as small molecule and biological therapies and vaccines. Our goal is to develop interventions that enable the patient’s immune system to mount durable responses to viral infections and cancer, thereby helping to transform the fields of oncology and virology.

    We and our collaborators currently have projects ongoing in glioblastoma, HIV/AIDS, Zika virus, neurodegenerative disease, drug addiction, cancer immunotherapy, and regenerative medicine.

    Collapse Research 
    Collapse Research Activities and Funding
    Investigating the molecular mechanisms of HIV/AIDS associated neurological disorders using microglia and cerebral organoids derived from induced pluripotent stem cells
    NIH/NIDA R01DA049524Sep 1, 2019 - Jul 31, 2024
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Identification and Regulation of RNA Modification by HIV infection and Methamphetamine
    NIH/NIDA R01DA046171Apr 1, 2018 - Jan 31, 2023
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Regulation of HIV-1 Replication by Cellular IncRNAs
    NIH/NIAID R21AI125103Aug 5, 2016 - Jul 31, 2018
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Modeling HIV/AIDS Associated Neurological Disorders with Human Pluripotent Cells
    NIH/NIDA DP1DA039562Mar 1, 2015 - Jan 31, 2021
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Innate Immune Responses and Vaccines Against Tumor-Associated Herpesviruses
    NIH/NCI P01CA177322Sep 19, 2014 - Aug 31, 2019
    Role: Co-Investigator
    Preclinical Development of HIV-1 Vif Antagonists
    NIH P01MH100942Aug 19, 2013 - Jul 31, 2018
    Role: Co-Investigator
    Regulation of HIV infection by Methamphetamine and non-coding RNAs
    NIH/NIDA R01DA030199Jul 15, 2010 - Jul 31, 2014
    Role: Principal Investigator
    RNAi-Based Therapy of ALS
    NIH/NINDS R01NS060856Aug 5, 2009 - Jul 31, 2012
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Structure and Function of Ribonucleoprotein Complexes Modulating HIV Replication
    NIH/NIAID R56AI041404Jul 24, 2009 - Jun 30, 2010
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Preclinical Development of HIV-1 Vif Antagonists
    NIH U19MH081836Apr 16, 2007 - Mar 31, 2013
    Role: Co-Investigator
    TARGETING HIV VIF PROTEIN
    NIH/NIAID R21AI054181Sep 30, 2002 - Aug 31, 2004
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Targeting Ensembles of Drug Resistant HIV-Protease
    NIH P01GM066524Aug 20, 2002 - Aug 31, 2013
    Role: Co-Investigator
    INHIBITION OF HIV REPLICATION
    NIH/NIAID R01AI045466Jul 1, 2000 - Jun 30, 2004
    Role: Principal Investigator
    INHIBITION OF HIV REPLICATION
    NIH/NIAID R21AI045466Sep 30, 1999 - Sep 30, 2000
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Mechanisms of innate immunity against HIV
    NIH/NIAID R01AI043198Jun 1, 1998 - Sep 15, 2000
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Structure and Function of Ribonucleoprotein Complexes Modulating HIV Replication
    NIH/NIAID R01AI041404Sep 1, 1997 - Jun 30, 2016
    Role: Principal Investigator
    STRUCTURE OF CHEMICALLY MODIFIED TAT-TAR COMPLEX
    NIH/FIC R03TW000702Jul 1, 1996 - Jun 30, 1999
    Role: Principal Investigator
    PROBING TAT TAR INTERACTIONS IN HIV BY CHEMICAL METHODS
    NIH/NIAID K02AI001369Apr 1, 1996 - Mar 31, 2001
    Role: Principal Investigator
    TAT-TAR INTERACTIONS IN HIV PROBED BY CHEMICAL METHODS
    NIH/NIAID R29AI034785Jul 15, 1993 - Jun 30, 1998
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG)
    NIH/NCI P30CA030199Jul 1, 1981 - Apr 30, 2020
    Role: Co-Investigator