Chromatin visualised by electron microscopy. Image credit: Ada Olins and Donald Olins with permission
DELiVERING HISTONES TO CHROMATIN
The chromatin landscape of a cell is subject to various “epigenetic” modifications that direct gene expression, allowing different cell-types to emerge from the same genetic information encoded in our DNA. Crucially, this epigenetic information must be inherited through cell division to allow cells to maintain their identity during cell division, modified to promote cellular differentiation, and protected from unscheduled changes that lead to complex diseases like cancer. Histone proteins wrap DNA to form nucleosomes, the basic repeating subunit of chromatin, and post-translational modifications of histones and their location in the genome are an important source of epigenetic information.
In my lab, we study a set of proteins called histone chaperones that support the supply of histones to chromatin for nucleosome assembly. We study how these proteins integrate with different cellular machinery and how they are organised to enable histone supply chains to streamline the delivery of histones to different processes and locations on chromatin. We are especially interested in studying how these processes go wrong in cancer with the aim of translating our textbook discoveries into future therapeutics. We are a mechanistically-minded laboratory that approaches research questions from a multidisciplinary perspective, and we recognise the strength that diversity brings to science.
I have been studying histone chaperone biology since my PhD (a long time ago) and I have just recently joined the Institute for Systems, Molecular & Integrative Biology at the University of Liverpool. My lab is based in the Department of Clinical & Molecular Cancer Biology. We have access to excellent state-of-the-art technologies in proteomics, next generation sequencing analysis and microscopy as well as cancer patient tissue biopsies. Thus we are well equipped to answer fundamental questions related to histone supply chains in cell biology and disease. We are always looking for new recruits so please get in touch if you are interested in joining the lab.