Jack C. Vaughn

Jack Vaughn


294 Pearson Hall

Biographical Information

Jack Vaughn is a molecular cell biologist and instructor in the interdisciplinary M.S./Ph.D. Cell, Molecular and Structural Biology (CMSB) Program. His long-term research goal is to understand the evolutionarily-conserved cellular, developmental, molecular and genetic mechanisms behind regulation of genes in Drosophila which encode intron splicing factor proteins. His lab is focusing on posttranscriptional processes. Most translational control elements are located in the 5'- and 3'-UTR of eukaryotic mRNAs. His lab has recently discovered a developmentally regulated 5'-UTR element in the Drosophila rnp-4f gene which is alternatively spliced and forms by intron-exon pairing to form a long evolutionarily-conserved stem-loop. This element exists in some isoforms of transcripts arising from the rnp-4f gene, an ortholog to human p110 and yeast Prp24, functioning as an essential factor to carry U4- and U6-snRNPs to the assembling spliceosome. Dr. Vaughn's previous students have utilized RNAi technology to show that this long mRNA isoform is essential for normal development of the central nervous system. Some of Dr. Vaughn's students are currently utilizing molecular techniques to identify and determine the roles of trans-acting protein factors in the regulation of rnp-4f pre-mRNA 5'-UTR alternative intron splicing. They utilize techniques including reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction to amplify selected regions from mRNAs, DNA sequencing, RNA electrophoretic mobility shift assay, Western analysis, and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry to identify RNA-binding proteins. The lab has recently shown that alternative splicing here is regulated by one of the two major isoforms arising from the dADAR gene, namely the shorter one lacking in editase function. Others of Dr. Vaughn's students are currently constructing and utilizing GAL4-UAS transgenic fly lines containing a GFP reporter gene to study the role of 5'-UTR primary and secondary structure in rnp-4f gene expression control. They have recently found that retention of the unspliced intron results in upregulation of translation in the developing central nervous system. An additional research interest in Dr. Vaughn's lab is in the role of naturally occurring sense/antisense mRNA transcript pairs in the regulation of gene expression during Drosophila embryogenesis. We are currently utilizing the novel new CRISPR-Cas 9 technology in our research.

Courses Taught

  • BIO/MBI 606: Advanced Cell Biology (Core Course in CMSB Program)
  • BIO/CHM/MBI 650: Seminar in Molecular Biology (Core Course in CMSB Program)
  • BIO 400: Capstone Course in Cell Biology and Human Health
  • BIO 203: Introduction to Cell Biology

Recent Publications

  • Zhu, Y. and Vaughn, J.C. 2018. Experimental verification and evolutionary origin of 5’-UTR polyadenylation sites in Arabidopsis thaliana. Frontiers in Plant Research. Doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00969.
  • Ghosh, S., Thomas, S.E., Abraham, L.M. and Vaughn, J.C. 2015. Regulation of expression for the RNP-4F splicing assembly factor gene in the fruit-fly Drosophila melanogaster. Open J. Animal Sci. 5: 418-428.
  • Chen, J., Yang, J.T., Doctor, D.L., Rawlins, B.A., Shields, B.C. and Vaughn, J.C. 2013. 5’-UTR mediated translational control of splicing assembly factor RNP-4F expression during development of the Drosophila central nervous system. Gene 528: 154-162.
  • Ghosh, S., Wang, Y., Cook, J.A., Chhiba, L. and Vaughn, J.C. 2013. A molecular, phylogenetic and functional study of the dADAR mRNA truncated isoform during Drosophila embryonic development reveals an editing-independent function.  Open J. Animal Sciences, special issue on Drosophila research 3, No. 4B: 20-30.
  • Vaughn, J.C., Ghosh, S. and Chen, J. 2013. A phylogenetic study of Drosophila splicing assembly chaperone RNP-4F associated U4-/U6-snRNA secondary structure. Open J. Animal Sciences, special issue on Drosophila research 3, No. 4B: 36-48.
  • Lakshmi, G.G., Ghosh, S., Jones, G.P., Parikh, R., Rawlins, B.A. and Vaughn, J.C. 2012.  An RNA electrophoretic mobility shift and mutational analysis of rnp-4f 5’-UTR intron splicing regulatory proteins in Drosophila reveals a novel new role for a dADAR protein isoform. Gene 511: 161-168.
  • Chen, J., Lakshmi, G.G., Hays, D.L., McDowell, K.M., Ma, E. and Vaughn, J.C. 2009.  Spatial and temporal expression of dADAR mRNA and protein isoforms during embryogenesis in Drosophila melanogaster. Differentiation 78: 312-320.
  • Chen, J., Concel, V.J., Bhatla, S., Rajeshwaran, R., Smith, D.L.H., Varadarajan, M., Backscheider, K.L., Bockrath, R.A., Petschek, J.P. and Vaughn, J.C. 2007. Alternative splicing of an rnp-4f mRNA isoform retaining an evolutionarily-conserved 5’-UT intronic element is developmentally regulated and shown via RNAi to be essential for normal central nervous system development in Drosophila melanogaster.  Gene 399: 91-104.
  • Fetherson, R.A., Strock, S.B., White, K.N. and Vaughn, J.C. 2006. Alternative pre- mRNA splicing in Drosophila spliceosomal assembly factor rnp-4f during development. Gene 371: 234-245.
  • Peters, N.T., Rohrbach, J.A., Zalewski, B.A. and Vaughn, J.C. 2004. RNA editing and regulation of Drosophila rnp-4f expression by sas10 antisense readthrough mRN transcripts. RNA 9: 698-710.