Dr Marcel Dinger
BSc, MSc (hons), PhD
Associate Group Leader and NHMRC Research Fellow

Email: m.dinger@uq.edu.au
Phone: +61 7 3176 6728
 
Biography
Dr Dinger is a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow at The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute. Dr Dinger received his PhD from the University of Waikato in 2003. While undertaking his PhD, Dr Dinger founded an informatics company that produced a series of highly successful products and services.
 
In 2005, he resumed his academic career with a prestigious New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology Postdoctoral Fellowship to join Professor Mattick’s group at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at The University of Queensland to study the role of long noncoding RNAs in mammalian development
and disease.

During his six years in the Mattick laboratory, Dr Dinger published more than 30 papers, including research articles in PNAS, Genome Research, Cancer Research and Cell.
 
In 2009, Dr Dinger was awarded a Smart Futures Fellowship from the Queensland State Government and in 2010 received an NHMRC Career Development Award.
 
Research Interests
One of the great challenges in biology is understanding the relationship between an individual’s genotype and phenotype. The availability of whole genome sequences has made this challenge more pertinent than ever with the potential outcomes having profound consequences in terms of both revolutionizing medical science and changing how we live our lives. To understand how genes relate to an individual’s characteristics, we must first appreciate the outputs of the genes themselves. Therefore our laboratory focuses on characterizing the diverse repertoire of RNAs that are transcribed from genes. Such RNAs may encode proteins of varying alternate isoforms or they may produce noncoding RNAs that can also act through diverse mechanisms.

Traditionally this first layer of gene expression was very difficult to explore completely, but with the advent of next generation sequencing is possible to define a cell’s complete transcriptome. By examining how the transcriptome changes in response to different environments and between different individuals, we can finally begin to appreciate how modifications to the genome are manifested in the transcriptome and ultimately the individual’s phenotype. This approach opens an entirely new window in understanding the molecular basis of disease.
 
The Dinger Lab is specifically interested in exploring the dynamic transitions that the transcriptomes of skin epithelial cells undergo as they become tumorigenic.
 
Research Projects
·      Functional characterization of the regulatory architecture of melanoma-associated loci
·      Identification of novel long noncoding RNAs in skin cancer by whole transcriptome sequencing
·      Investigating the role of viruses in squamous cell carcinoma by genomic and transcriptomic sequencing
·      Translation of next generation sequencing technology for clinical diagnostic and prognostic applications
·      Application of personal and skin cancer genome sequencing for guiding treatment and modifying lifestyle
 
10 Recent Publications
1.        Mercer TR, Gerhardt DJ, Dinger ME, Crawford J, Trapnell C, Jeddeloh JA, Mattick JS, Rinn, JL. Targeted RNA sequencing reveals the deep complexity of the human transcriptome. Nature Biotechnology Published online 13 Nov 2011.
2.        Mercer TR, Neph S, Dinger ME, Crawford J, Smith MS, Shearwood A-MJ, Rackham O, Haugen E, Stamatoyannopoulos JA, Filopovska A, and Mattick JS (2011). The human mitochondrial transcriptome. Cell 146: 645-658.
3.        Khaitan D*, Dinger ME*, Mazar J, Crawford J, Smith MA, Mattick JS, Perera RJ (2011). The melanoma-upregulated long noncoding RNA SPRY4-IT1 modulates apoptosis and invasion. Cancer Research 71: 3852-3862. [*equal first author]
4.        Mercer TR*, Dinger ME*, Bracken CP, Kolle G, Szubert JM, Korbie DJ, Askarian-Amiri, ME, Gardiner BB, Goodall GJ, Grimmond SM, Mattick JS (2010). Regulated post-transcriptional RNA cleavage diversifies the eukaryotic transcriptome. Genome Research 20: 1639-1650. [*equal first author]
5.        Mercer TR*, Dinger ME*, Mattick JS (2009). Long noncoding RNA: insights into function. Nature Genetics Reviews, 10: 155-159. [*equal first author]
6.        Sunwoo H,Dinger ME, Wilusz JE, Amaral PP, Mattick JS, Spector DL (2009). MEN e/b nuclear retained non-coding RNAs are upregulated upon muscle differentiation and are structural components of paraspeckles. Genome Research, 19: 347-359.
7.        Dinger ME, Mercer TR, Pang KC, Mattick JS. The ambiguous distinction between the protein-coding and noncoding transcriptome (2008). PLoS Computational Biology, 4: e1000176.
8.        Dinger ME, Amaral PP, Mercer TR, Pang KC, Bruce SJ, Gardiner BB, Askarian-Amiri ME, Ru K, Soldà G, Simons C, Sunkin SM, Crowe ML, Grimmond SM, Perkins AC, Mattick JS (2008). Long noncoding RNAs in mouse embryonic stem cell pluripotency and differentiation. Genome Research, 18: 1433-1445.
9.        Amaral, PP, Dinger, ME, Mercer TR, Mattick JS (2008). The eukaryotic genome as an RNA machine. Science, 319: 1787-1789.
10.    Mercer TR*, Dinger ME*, Sunkin SM, Mehler MF, Mattick JS (2008). Specific expression of noncoding RNAs in the adult mouse brain. Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105: 716-721. [*equal first author]
 
Lab Members

Research Officers PhD Student
Konstantin Shakhbazov Dennis Gascoigne
Joanna Crawford