Bambarendage Pinithi Upekka Perera, PhD
- Research Assistant Professor, Environmental Health Sciences
Dr. Perera's research interests lie in the field of environmental epigenetics, which seeks to identify epigenetic changes that result from environmental exposures at critical times in life, and to link these phenomena to broader implications in human health and disease. The concept of epigenetics explains how environmental factors, including diet, exercise, and exposure to toxicants, can influence biological processes via gene expression without altering the DNA sequence. DNA methylation at cytosine residues, histone modifications, and non-coding RNA (ncRNA) constitute the reversible epigenetic modifications that regulate gene expression. Dr. Perera is interested in studying PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA), a class of small ncRNAs, as a potential biomarker for environmental exposures, and as a potential tool to edit the epigenome. Furthermore, she aims to identify environmental influences on genomic imprinting, an epigenetic process critical for development. Her research also aims to identify molecular mechanisms associated with toxicant exposures that contribute to human health. Since Dr. Perera's expertise include mouse genetics, molecular biology, and RNA biology, she continues her research as part of the Environmental Epigenetics and Nutrition Lab, using the mouse as a model organism.
- PhD, Louisiana State University, Baton rouge, 2016
- BS, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, 2011
Environmental epigenetics, ncRNA biomarkers, Genomic imprinting, Developmental Toxicology
Dr. Perera collaborates with Dr. Dolinoy's research program to advance the understanding of perinatal exposure effects on the epigenome and health risks, and to develop new tools based on the PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA) system to transform precision environmental health.
Many epigenetic epidemiology analyses are performed using biologically available DNA (e.g. blood, saliva), which serve as proxies for epigenetic status in tissues targeted by exposures. The goal of the Target II U01 was to utilize an established mouse model of environmental exposures to evaluate tissue- and cell-specific epigenetic alterations associated with perinatal exposures and disease outcomes.
An offspring's in utero environment influences its risk for late-onset diseases; therefore, early-life exposure to toxicants can adversely affect health later in life, in part via epigenetic mechanisms. Therefore, Dr. Perera seeks to elucidate these mechanistic links to environmental exposure that influence genomic imprinting during development.
Svoboda LK, Perera BPU, Morgan RK, Polemi KM, Pan J, Dolinoy DC. Toxicoepigenetics and Environmental Health: Challenges and Opportunities. Chem Res Toxicol. 2022 Aug 15;35(8):1293-1311. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.1c00445. Epub 2022 Jul 25. Review. PubMed PMID: 35876266.
Perera BPU, Morgan RK, Polemi KM, Sala-Hamrick KE, Svoboda LK, Dolinoy DC. PIWI-Interacting RNA (piRNA) and Epigenetic Editing in Environmental Health Sciences. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2022 Aug 2;. doi: 10.1007/s40572-022-00372-6. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PubMed PMID: 35917009.
Bakulski KM, Dou JF, Thompson RC, Lee C, Middleton LY, Perera BPU, Ferris SP, Jones TR, Neier K, Zhou X, Sartor MA, Hammoud SS, Dolinoy DC, Colacino JA. Single-Cell Analysis of the Gene Expression Effects of Developmental Lead (Pb) Exposure on the Mouse Hippocampus. Toxicol Sci. 2020 Aug 1;176(2):396-409. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfaa069. PubMed PMID: 32458983; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7416319.
Perera BPU, Tsai ZT, Colwell ML, Jones TR, Goodrich JM, Wang K, Sartor MA, Faulk C, Dolinoy DC. Somatic expression of piRNA and associated machinery in the mouse identifies short, tissue-specific piRNA. Epigenetics. 2019 May;14(5):504-521. doi: 10.1080/15592294.2019.1600389. Epub 2019 Apr 8. PubMed PMID: 30955436; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6557559.
Kochmanski JJ, Marchlewicz EH, Cavalcante RG, Perera BPU, Sartor MA, Dolinoy DC. Longitudinal Effects of Developmental Bisphenol A Exposure on Epigenome-Wide DNA Hydroxymethylation at Imprinted Loci in Mouse Blood. Environ Health Perspect. 2018 Jul;126(7):077006. doi: 10.1289/EHP3441. eCollection 2018 Jul. PubMed PMID: 30044229; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6108846.
View full list of publications at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/1-1jza8urygka/bibliography/public/
Address: M6015 SPH II
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Areas of Expertise: Environmental Health, Genetics, Precision Health