Associate Professor, Molecular Biosciences; Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
Cancer Cell Biology
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Dr. Brickner's research is focused on how the localization of DNA within the nucleus affects transcription. Brickner initially established that the localization of a gene in the baker's yeast relocalizes from a random distribution to the nuclear periphery upon activation. A large number of genes are regulated in this way. Targeting is mediated by the interaction of the nuclear pore complex with DNA zip codes upstream of these genes. The Brickner lab probed the molecular mechanism by which zip codes mediate targeting to the nuclear pore and they have discovered that this targeting has two distinct effects: 1) it promotes transcription and 2) after repression, it serves as a form of "transcriptional memory" that primes genes for faster reactivation. These studies have changed our understanding of the role of spatial organization in regulating transcription. Transcriptional regulation is fundamentally involved in differentiation and oncogenesis. Future studies will focus on how broadly these principles are utilized in nature, how this type of regulation is disrupted during oncogenesis and how spatial organization is coupled to the phenomenon of genomic instability.