• Once deemed heretical, the idea of “inheritance of acquired characteristics” is now gaining evidence from multiple species, including mammals. Studies from our lab and others now promote the idea that paternally acquired phenotypes (e.g. metabolic disorders) from environmental stressors can be encoded in the form of sperm RNAs & RNA modifications as a sperm 'RNA code' (Nat Rev Endocrinol 2019, 2020) which transmit paternal phenotypes to the offspring via shaping early embryo development (Nat Rev Genet 2016; Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 2018

The Evolving Ideas of Heredity & Hereditary Information Carriers (further read)

tRNA-derived small RNAs (tsRNAs) and rRNA-derived small RNAs (rsRNAs) are newly discovered small non-coding RNAs with diverse functions. We showed that sperm tsRNAs/rsRNAs can act as hereditary factor that contribute to the intergenerational transmission of paternally acquired metabolic disorder. Read more

embryo symmetry breaking

sperm RNA

During mammalian early embryo development, how do different lineages emerge? Are 2-cell blastomeres absolutely equal? If not, can there be even small differences at molecular levels? and if so, how do they arise at the first place and how could they get amplified to guide future cell fate? Read more
We use novel tools including SPORTSPANDORA-seq and mass spectrometry-based methods such as LC-MS/MS and MLC-seq to study how novel small RNAs (e.g., tsRNAs and rsRNAs) along with their associated RNA modifications and responsible enzymes, dynamically regulate gene expression; and when dysfunctional, cause diseases such as cancer. Read more

the 'RNA code'

Latest Lab news (More news)                            
2023.9 Qi and Tong Zhou discussed the emerging functional principles of small RNAs from a structure-centric view, beyond linear targeting, published in Journal of Biological Chemistry
2023.7 Dr. Junchao Shi landed a faculty position at Chinese Academy of Sciences
2023.7 Qi discussed methods in sequencing tRNA/tsRNAs at the Epitranscriptomics: Methods, Technologies, and Innovation Symposium 
2023.6 Qi gave a talk at the 13th International Symposium of Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetases on our new exploration of RNA modification, structure and functionality of tsRNAs
2023.5 Qi blogged an reflection about Truth Evolves Over Time, contemplating the upcoming changes in the status of small RNA research 
2023.4 Dr. Chen Cai join our lab as a Postdoc researcher
2023.3-4 Qi gave talks at the NIH/NIEHS and University of Illinois Chicago about sperm RNA code and epigenetic inheritance
2023.2 We published a commentary paper explaining how ancestral BPA exposure drives 3D genome memory for transgenerational inheritance of obesity in Nature Revivews Endocrinology
2023.1 Qi gave a Keynote lecture at the IETS 2023 annual meeting about our data & thoughts on 'sperm RNA code' and epigenetic inheritance; the lecture is associated with a commentary paper published at Reproduction, Fertility and Development 
2022.12 Exciting to announce that Qi Chen lab will move to University of Utah School of Medicine starting Feb 2023
2022.12 Jiancheng Yu joined Qi Chen lab as graduate student

Exploring the small RNA universe with new tools (futher read)