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Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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The Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (LBMB) carries out basic research into the mechanisms underlying cell growth, division, differentiation and homeostasis with a focus on the biology of chromosomes and the cell nucleus. LBMB fosters an interdisciplinary approach in which the methods of biophysics, biochemistry, genetics and cell biology are used in an interactive and collaborative research environment to solve problems of fundamental importance.

The Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is a merger of the Laboratory of Biochemistry and the Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology. It was officially inaugurated in October 2006.

Shiv Grewal investigates the mechanisms of heterochromatin assembly and their roles in maintaining genome stability using the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe as a model system. A major focus is the role of RNAi in processing transcripts generated from repetitive elements at centromeres, telomeres and the mat locus to target and establish constitutive heterochromatin at these regions. Recently, his lab has begun to elucidate the role of RNAi-dependent and RNAi-independent mechanisms in establishing facultative heterochromatin in different parts of the genome.

Yawen Bai investigates the mechanism of protein folding and chromatin dynamics using biophysical techniques, including nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). His research is focused on determining high-resolution structures of protein folding intermediates, histone variants in complex with their chaperones, and nucleosomes in complex with nucleosome-binding proteins. His laboratory also helps other NCI investigators determine the structures of proteins to aid in cancer drug design.

Dhruba Chattoraj investigates the molecular mechanisms that control chromosome replication and segregation in model organisms such as Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholerae. The primary interest of his group is to understand how once-per-cell-cycle replication is ensured in bacteria. His recent work in V. cholerae, a bacterium with two chromosomes, focuses on how multiple chromosomes are maintained in bacteria.

Michael Lichten investigates mechanisms of DNA damage repair and homologous recombination, focusing on meiotic recombination in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. His group examines the impact of chromatin structure, chromosome structure, and chromosome replication on the distribution and outcome of meiotic recombination events. The roles of DNA repair, the DNA damage response, and cell cycle regulatory proteins in homologous recombination are also explored.

Bruce Paterson investigates the molecular basis of gene regulation during development. His work focuses on how the single transcription factor, Drosophila MyoD homolog nautilus, initiates the entire myogenic program from cell lineage determination in the embryo to cell cycle exit and activation of the muscle-specific gene set during terminal differentiation. Analysis of nautilus function is carried out using gene targeting/modification methods, ChIP-Seq, and comparison of transcriptome and micro RNA expression patterns from wild-type and nautilus-null flies.

Yikang Rong investigates mechanisms that protect telomeres, the natural ends of linear chromosomes, from being recognized as DNA breaks. Telomere dysfunction fuels genome instability, a leading cause for cancer. Using the Drosophila model system, in which natural telomeres are not elongated by telomerase, the Rong group has defined genetic pathways that protect telomeres independent of the underlying DNA sequence, and established functional analogy between Drosophila proteins and their counterparts in telomerase-maintained systems.

Alex Kelly investigates the mechanisms by which chromatin structure and modification coordinate the key events of mitosis. He employs a combination of biochemical reconstitution, structural biology and cell biology to understand how localized biochemical reactions on chromosomes are initiated and controlled to ensure high-fidelity chromosome segregation.

Carl Wu investigates the role of chromatin structure and remodeling activities on genome function. A current focus is on understanding mechanisms by which the ATP-driven chromatin remodeling enzyme SWR1 replaces conventional histones with the histone H2A.Z variant, and the role of the histone variant CenH3 in the assembly and function of atypical nucleosomes at centromeres.

This page was last updated on 7/30/2013.