Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry
Chromatin and the Biochemistry of Epigenetic Information
Our research interests are focused on understanding chromatin, the complex of DNA, histones, and other proteins that constitute the physiological form of the genome. In particular, we are interested in the role of histone post-translational modifications and histone chaperones in establishing an embryonic epigenetic state, how this process is misregulated in cancers, and how to drug components of the machinery.
Epigenetics is a phenomenon important for an overall increase in the complexity of the genome without changes in gene sequence. Post-translational modifications of histones, and deposition of histone variants, establish a “histone code” of activation or repression of transcription and other chromatin-mediated transactions, and constitute a major part of the epigenome. Epigenetic information is information content "on top of" the DNA-encoded genetic material. Epigenetic information is the landscape on which the dynamic usage of genetic information is encoded.
We primarily utilize protein biochemistry and enzymology, structural biology, and embryos of the frog Xenopus laevis in our studies. These tools allow us to probe evolutionarily conserved mechanisms specifying critical events in chromatin biology and in maternal and zygotic control of development. Our combined use of rigorous in vitro studies along with in vivo studies in the frog provides an uncompromised approach to fully understanding epigenetic phenomena.We are currently pursuing a number of specific research avenues, including:
These studies are designed to probe the molecular role of chromatin components in the establishment of the embryonic state and have direct bearings on understanding basic events in development and cancer. Our approach provides a unique “bottom-up” molecular understanding of the role of egg components, such as pre-deposition histones, histone modifications, and histone chaperones, in writing the embryonic chromatin state.
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Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus
1300 Morris Park Avenue
Forchheimer Building, Room 304
Bronx, NY 10461