Epigenetics, which studies the heritable changes in phenotype that are independent of alterations in the DNA sequence itself, may hold the key to understanding the fundamental aspects of how the same genome encodes many different cell types and the cellular memory. Epigenetic changes are also involved in the development of many human diseases such as, cancer, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. The research of my laboratory focuses on two main research areas related to epigenetics:
1. Cancer Epigenetics
Numerous epigenetic regulators have been found to be mutated in a wide variety of tumors. However, in many cases whether those mutations are “driver” mutations or merely “passenger” mutations remains to be proven, and their mechanisms of action remain to be elucidated. We are taking a multidisciplinary approach, combining conventional biochemistry, mouse genetics, genome-wide approach and bioinformatics to investigate these questions. Another research interest is to build cell-based high throughput screening systems to screen epigenetic drugs for cancer therapy.
2. Signal transduction pathways in Epigenetics
An understanding of how different epigenetic statuses are established in different cell types and orchestrated by cell signaling is still very limited. To address these questions, my laboratory will initially focus on studying the posttranslational modification of epigenetic regulators and how PcG proteins are recruited to their targets.