Shalini Sharma, PhD

Cancer Biology Program

Biography

Shalini Sharma earned her B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Microbiology from University of Bombay, India, and her Master’s in Biochemistry from Jiwaji University, India. She then obtained her Ph.D in Biochemistry from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore working with Sunil K. Podder on ribosome-inactivating proteins. She completed her postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Douglas L. Black at the University of California, Los Angeles investigating mechanisms of pre-mRNA splicing regulation in mammals. In 2013, she joined the Departmental of Basic Medical Sciences at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine-Phoenix. She has been a member of the Cancer Biology program since 2014 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2019.

Cancer Focus

Somatic mutations in many proteins of the splicing machinery occur at a high frequency in myeloid malignancies including myelodysplastic syndromes (~60%), chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (~50%), and acute myeloid leukemia (~15%). Our research focuses on understanding mechanisms of splice site selection, and how splicing mutations in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) leads to a myeloid disease phenotype. We have recently identified a novel RNA binding motif, a Ubiquitin-like domain, in splicing factor 3A1 (SF3A1), and shown that MDS mutations in this domain impact RNA binding. We have also shown that mutations of another myeloid disease protein, the serine-arginine rich splicing factor 2 (SRSF2), can cause abnormal differentiation of human HSPCs.