Professor and J. Ralph Meadows Chair, Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
The Dent Laboratory, located near Austin at Science Park, studies the role of chromatin and chromatin-modifying proteins in regulating gene expression, genome integrity and other essential cellular processes with the overall goal of understanding the importance of chromatin remodeling and epigenetics in normal cell growth and development. We then hope to gain insights into how misregulation of these activities contributes to disease states, including various cancers.
The chromatin field has been galvanized in the last several years by the identification of histone acetyltransferases (HATs), histone deacetylases (HDACs), histone methyltransferases (HMTs), and other chromatin modifying enzymes. It has been further stimulated by the discovery of modified-histone binding motifs in nonhistone proteins and the realization that regulatory switches are created by the cross-regulation of particular modifications. However, the functions of many histone modifying enzymes in vivo are still not well defined. Nor is it clear whether post-translational modifications in other proteins are cross-regulated as they are in histones. Research in my lab addresses these important questions using a combination of genetic, molecular, and biochemical approaches and a variety of model systems, including Saccharomyces cerevesiae, mice, embryonic stem (ES) cells and various tissue culture cell lines.