My laboratory centers on the topic of chromatin biology in health and disease, with a particular focus on histone proteins. Histones play a critical structural role by organizing and packaging DNA. Our genome encodes numerous histone variants, all of which are subject to a large number of posttranslational modifications. These variants, and modifications, help dictate proteins that bind local chromatin structures and therefore carry tremendous influence on the expression of underlying genes. This information can be transmitted through numerous cell cycles, and is believed to be epigenetic.
Two main themes have been developed in my lab, namely: i) the study of proteins that influence the inheritance of epigenetic information; and ii) the study of histone-binding proteins whose deregulation is pathogenic.
i) Inheritance of epigenetic information: While histones carry important information, they are also routinely displaced and modified as DNA is replicated, transcribed and repaired. We aim to understand the spatiotemporal regulation of epigenetic factors that cells utilize to maintain a transcriptional ‘memory’ through cell division.
ii) Histone binding proteins: Histones are chaperoned, moved, and bound by a myriad of proteins. In our studies, a particular emphasis is placed on the biochemical characterization of histones, histone chaperones, as well as other histone-binding proteins, and how their functions go awry in a number of childhood disorders.