RNA Biology and Innate Immune Sensing

Walkley Group

The RNA Biology and Innate Immune Sensing Research group investigate how RNA regulation influences both normal development and disease. By uncovering these mechanisms, they aim to advance the understanding of cellular processes and identify new strategies for inflammatory disease, rare inherited disorders and cancer.


RNA (ribonucleic acid) is a molecule essential for various biological roles, including coding, decoding, regulation, and expression of genes. RNA plays a key role in translating genetic information from DNA into proteins, as well as in various regulatory and catalytic functions within the cell.

The RNA Biology and Innate Immune Sensing Research group, under the guidance of Professor Carl Walkley, investigates how RNA modification by the family of Adenosine Deaminase Acting on RNA (ADAR ) proteins, called ADAR1 and ADAR2, alter the RNA landscape, influencing normal biological processes and disease development. They are particularly interested in the normal roles of ADAR1 and the consequences of its editing of cellular RNAs. They seek to understand

  • The cellular and organismal consequences of A-to-I editing
  • The protein or gene networks that a cell can use to regulate the response to unedited cellular dsRNA,
  • How these two processes intersect with pathologies associated with changes in ADAR1 function or editing including in cancer, infection and autoinflammatory conditions. This is relevant to understanding how mutations in ADAR1 cause human disease, such as the rare childhood disease Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome.

The team are also interested in understanding rare human disease syndromes, particularly those related to an increased risk of cancer. In this line of study, they are focused on Rothmund-Thomson Syndrome and how the gene identified in this disease, RECQL4, functions. They generate models to identify how the key genes involved in these syndromes function, and to use them to identify and test potential new therapeutic options for these diseases.

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Areas of focus

  • Understanding how RNA modifications, particularly A-to-I RNA editing by ADAR1, influence normal biology and disease development.
  • Generating and using models of human cancers, such as bone cancer and osteosarcoma, to understand how they develop and, using this information, find better treatments.

Research Group Head | Professor Carl Walkley

I study how RNA is regulated and modified in the human body to maintain health, and what happens when RNA becomes dysregulated, potentially leading to uncontrolled cell growth and cancer. My goal is to uncover new insights into these disease mechanisms, which could lead to new therapeutic strategies and improved patient outcomes.
Professor Carl Walkley

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