David L. Levens, M.D., Ph.D.

David L. Levens, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Center for Cancer Research
  • National Cancer Institute
Laboratory of Pathology


Dr. Levens studies fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation, emphasizing the control of MYC function and expression. He and his team showed that MYC is a univesal amplifier of gene expression. This explains much of MYC physiology and pathology, but also defines the needs to control MYC levels precisely in real time. The Levens Lab has shown that torque generated during transcription of MYC modifies DNA structure dynamically at the FUSE element, that together with FUSE Binding Protein and FBP Interacting Repressor is molecular cruise control for MYC. Most recently he is exploring the genome-wide utilization of supercoiled driven changes in DNA to regulate genes in health and disease.

Areas of Expertise

MYC Function
MYC Regulation
DNA Structure and Topology
General Mechanisms of Transcription


Selected Recent Publications

The Texture of Chromatin

Kouzine F, Levens D.
Cell. 179(3): 579-81, 2019. [ Journal Article ]

Single-molecule visualization of the effects of ionic strength and crowding on structure-mediated interactions in supercoiled DNA molecules

Scott S, Shaheen C, McGuinness B, Metera K, Kouzine F, Levens D, Benham CJ, Leslie S.
Nucleic Acids Res. 47(12): 6360-68, 2019. [ Journal Article ]

Permanganate/S1 Nuclease Footprinting Reveals Non-B DNA Structures with Regulatory Potential across a Mammalian Genome.

Kouzine F, Wojtowicz D, Baranello L, Yamane A, Nelson S, Resch W, Kieffer-Kwon KR, Benham CJ, Casellas R, Przytycka TM, Levens D.
Cell Syst. 4(3): 344-56, 2017. [ Journal Article ]

Global Inhibition with Specific Activation: How p53 and MYC Redistribute the Transcriptome in the DNA Double-Strand Break Response

Porter JR, Fisher BE, Baranello L, Liu JC, Kambach DM, Nie Z, Koh WS, Luo J, Stommel JM, Levens D, Batchelor E.
Mol Cell. 67(6): 1013-25, 2017. [ Journal Article ]

Far Upstream Element Binding Protein Plays a Crucial Role in Embryonic Development, Hematopoiesis, and Stabilizing Myc Expression Levels.

Zhou W, Chung YJ, Parrilla Castellar ER, Zheng Y, Chung HJ, Bandle R, Liu J, Tessarollo L, Batchelor E, Aplan PD, Levens D.
Am J Pathol.. 186(3): 701-15, 2016. [ Journal Article ]

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Research Collaborator
Laura Baranello, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)
Subhendu Kumar Das, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)
Rajiv Jha, Ph.D.
Special Volunteer
Emil F. Michelotti, Ph.D.
Zuqin Nie, Ph.D.
Medical Technologist
Suzanne L. Sanford
Research Fellow
Ying Zheng, Ph.D.