Research

Lena Ho Lab

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Lena Ho

Education

2004  BSc in Genetics and Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
2010  PhD in Immunology, Stanford University, USA

Professional Experience

2017- present  
Assistant Professor, CVMD Program, DUKE-NUS Medical School

2016-2017
Project Leader, Institute of Medical Biology, 
Laboratory of Human Embryology & Genetics,
A*STAR Singapore

2013-2015
Adjunct Lecturer, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, NTU, Singapore

2010-2016
Postdoctoral fellow, Institute of Medical Biology, 
Laboratory of Human Embryology & Genetics, 
A*STAR, Singapore

The human genome is littered with small open reading frames (sORFs) encoding very small endogenous peptides, ranging from 20-100 amino acids. These are nestled within non-coding RNAs, pseudogenes and untranslated regions of conventional protein-coding genes and even introns. Such peptides, whose functions are just beginning to be understood, can act as extracellular signaling molecules (such as hormones and cytokines), antimicrobial agents, antigens, or regulatory moieties of larger proteins. Using a combination of bioinformatics, proteomics and next-generation sequencing, we are systematically defining these endogenous peptides and uncovering their functions, focusing on the cardiovascular system, which is well known for employing peptide hormones to effect homeostatic control (e.g. ANPs, Angiotensin, Apelin etc). We are also interested in the functional and structural relationships between RNAs and their resident sORFs, with the hypothesis that sORF-containing RNAs toggle between coding and non-coding states. sORF translation therefore modulates (non-coding) RNA activity, and vice versa. We are interested in elucidating the mechanisms underlying such toggling.

Sato T, Sato C, Kadowaki A, Watanabe H, Ho L, Ishida J, Yamaguchi T, Kimura A, Fukamizu A, Penninger JM, Reversade B, Ito H, Imai Y, Kuba K. ELABELA-APJ axis protects from pressure overload heart failure and angiotensin II-induced cardiac damage. Cardiovasc Res. 2017 Jun 1;113(7):760-769. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvx061. Link
Deshwar AR, Chng SC, Ho L, Reversade B, Scott IC. The Apelin receptor enhances Nodal/TGFβ signaling to ensure proper cardiac development. Elife. 2016 Apr 14;5. pii: e13758. doi: 10.7554/eLife.13758. Link
Ho L, Tan SY, Wee S, Wu Y, Tan SJ, Ramakrishna NB, Chng SC, Nama S, Szczerbinska I, Chan YS, Avery S, Tsuneyoshi N, Ng HH, Gunaratne J, Dunn NR, Reversade B. ELABELA Is an Endogenous Growth Factor that Sustains hESC Self-Renewal via the PI3K/AKT Pathway. Cell Stem Cell. 2015 Oct 1;17(4):435-47. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2015.08.010. Link
Kadoch C, Hargreaves DC, Hodges C, Elias L, Ho L, Ranish J, Crabtree GR. Proteomic and bioinformatic analysis of mammalian SWI/SNF complexes identifies extensive roles in human malignancy. Nat Genet. 2013 Jun;45(6):592-601. doi: 10.1038/ng.2628 Link
Chng SC, Ho L, Tian J, Reversade B. ELABELA: a hormone essential for heart development signals via the apelin receptor. Dev Cell. 2013 Dec 23;27(6):672-80. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2013.11.002 Link
Ho L, Miller EL, Ronan JL, Ho WQ, Jothi R, Crabtree GR. esBAF facilitates pluripotency by conditioning the genome for LIF/STAT3 signalling and by regulating polycomb function. Nat Cell Biol. 2011 Jul 24;13(8):903-13. doi: 10.1038/ncb2285. Link
Ho L, Crabtree GR. Chromatin remodelling during development. Nature. 2010 Jan 28;463(7280):474-84. doi: 10.1038/nature08911 Link
Ho L, Jothi R, Ronan JL, Cui K, Zhao K, Crabtree GR. An embryonic stem cell chromatin remodeling complex, esBAF, is an essential component of the core pluripotency transcriptional network. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Mar 31;106(13):5187-91. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812888106 Link
Ho L, Ronan JL, Wu J, Staahl BT, Chen L, Kuo A, Lessard J, Nesvizhskii AI, Ranish J, Crabtree GR. An embryonic stem cell chromatin remodeling complex, esBAF, is essential for embryonic stem cell self-renewal and pluripotency. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Mar 31;106(13):5181-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812889106 Link