Muge N. Kuyumcu-Martinez, PhDAssociate Professor

Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Neuroscience and Cell Biology

Route: 1068 | Tel: (409) 772-3228 | nmmartin@utmb.edu

UTMB Influuent | Pubmed Publications

Education and Training

BS in Biological Sciences, Middle East Technical University
PhD in Molecular Viology and RNA biology, Baylor College of Medicine (Richard Lloyd)
Post-doctoral in RNA biology/ heart disease and development, Baylor College of Medicine (Thomas Cooper)

Biography:
Muge N. Kuyumcu-Martinez received her Ph.D. at Baylor College of Medicine studying mechanisms by which positive-strand RNA viruses utilize to target RNA binding proteins involved in host mRNA translation. She pursued her post-doctoral training at Baylor College of Medicine working on alternative splicing regulation by RNA binding proteins during heart development and in cardiac complications of muscular dystrophy. She was promoted to an Instructor position at Baylor College of Medicine. In 2010, she was recruited as a tenure track Assistant Professor to the University of Texas Medical Branch. Since then, she has received the prestigious March of Dimes Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar Award and obtained numerous federal and private grants. She has published several high impact research papers and review articles regarding the role of RNA binding proteins in human heart diseases. She has served as an ad hoc member of study sections for American Heart Association and NIH. She is currently a member of American Heart Association and RNA society.

Research:
Our laboratory’s main focus is to understand gene regulation by RNA binding proteins in the heart. We utilize state of the art RNA-sequencing technologies combined with mouse genetics, molecular and cellular biology techniques to achieve our goals.

  1. Identifying RNA binding proteins and their target RNA networks are essential for proper heart development and function 
  2. Elucidating how dysregulation of these RNA networks and RNA binding proteins leads to congenital and adult heart diseases 
  3. Defining novel methods to restore essential gene regulatory RNA networks for prevention or treatment of human heart diseases

We are currently pursuing two different aspects of gene regulation by RNA binding proteins in the heart. 

1. RNA binding proteins and their target RNA networks essential for heart development
Congenital heart defects can lead to childhood deaths and life-long cardiovascular complications. Recent studies linked mutations in RNA binding proteins to congenital heart defects. Not much is known regarding the role of RNA binding proteins in cardiovascular development. The RNA binding protein RBFOX2 is mutated in patients with congenital heart defects. It is unclear how RBFOX2 contributes to mammalian heart development. We are systematically investigating how loss of Rbfox2 in mouse cardiac progenitor cells impact early cardiovascular development and identifying its target RNA networks in the embryonic heart.
Significance
RNA binding proteins can impact gene expression and function by regulating pre-mRNA splicing, cleavage and polyadenylation, mRNA stability, localization and translation. However, RNA regulatory networks are poorly defined in the embryonic heart. We are focused on identifying essential RNA regulatory networks regulated by RNA binding proteins in the embryonic heart with direct impact on cardiovascular development. These findings will provide insights into better understanding congenital heart defects and may lead to novel ways to prevent life-long cardiovascular complications. 

2. Dysregulation of gene regulatory RNA networks in diabetes
We identified several different RNA binding proteins that are dysregulated in diabetic hearts. We are further pursuing the consequences of these changes in these RNA binding proteins and their target expression and function in the diabetic hearts. We are currently testing antisense oligo based therapy to correct aberrant gene expression by targeting pre-mRNAs in order to find novel ways to. prevent or treat diabetic heart complications using mouse models.
Significance
Diabetes is a costly health care problem affecting 8.3% of the US population. The majority of the diabetes patients die from cardiovascular complications. Defining RNA regulatory networks that contribute to aberrant gene expression in diabetic hearts may reveal novel ways such as oligo-based therapy to correct these defects and ultimately prevent/treat cardiovascular complications of diabetes.

Lab news

  • Congrats to Jun and Sunil. Their paper is accepted to Cell Reports (August 2021)
  • Congrats to Jun. Her paper is published online in Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (July 2021)
  • Congrats to Joshua for receiving the American Heart Association Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Science (July 2021)
  • Muge received the AHA Transformational Project Award (Jan 2021).
  • Muge received a collaborative CPRIT grant titled "Targeting ARNT and RBFOX2 Alternative Splicing as a Novel Treatment Modality in Lymphoid Malignancies" (August 2019).
  • Congrats to KarryAnne. Her paper is published in BBRC (Sep 2018).
  • Congratulations to Dr. Jun Cao for receiving an American Heart Association post-doctoral fellowship (April 2018)
  • Congratulations to Dr. Sunil Verma for receiving the best abstract award for his talk at the 6th Cardiovascular Research Institute Symposium held at Baylor College of Medicine (April 2018)
  • Curtis’s review has just been published in WIREs RNA (December 2017).
  • KarryAnne has received the “Jane Welsh Award for Excellence in Cardiovascular Research Graduate Student Award” and the “Elferink Scholarship for Academic Excellence” (December 2017).
  • Curtis’s paper is published in Muscle and Nerve (April 2017).
  • Muge received an NIH R01 grant (January 2017).
  • Muge’s review has just been published in Development (November 2016).
  • Curtis Nutter received the prestigious Kempner Scholarship (Sep 2016).
  • Sunil Verma's recent paper is in press at Scientific Reports (July 2016)
  • A collaborative paper with the Garg lab is in press at International Journal of Proteomics (May 2016) 
  • Our recent paper on Rbfox2 is in press at Cell Reports (May 2016).
  • Curtis Nutter received the best student poster at the Clinical and Translational Research Forum (April 2016).
  • Our collaborative paper with Dr. Fujise is published in Scientific Reports (Jan 2016).
  • Ela and high school student Yareli in the lab got the "Team Science Award" for the best Mentor/Student pair in the Ball High School Bench Tutorials Program. (May 2015)
  • Muge received the BMB pilot grant. (April 2015)
  • Muge received the American Heart Association Grant in Aid Award (January 2015)
  • Curtis was awarded the Arthur V. Simmang Scholarship. (November 2014)
  • Curtis received the BSCO Award for his contribution to graduate student organization. (October 2014)
  • Muge received the Institute of Infections and Immunity Mini Center Grant as one of the project leaders together with Dr. Nisha Garg, Dr. Ken Fujise and Dr. Whitney Yin. (September 2014)