Professor, Molecular Biosciences; Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
Cancer Cell Biology
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Accurate repair, replication and segregation of chromosomes is essential to the proper growth and development of every living organism; failures of these processes are at the root of many types of cancer. Our group is focused on understanding the mechanisms by which cells physically fold, segregate, repair and recombine their chromosomal DNAs, using mainly biophysical techniques to visualize the operation of DNA-acting protein "machines". The binding and processing of DNA molecules is monitored in real time using single-molecule methods, based on micromechanics of DNA as well as on single-molecule fluorescence detection. Examples of DNA-acting proteins studied by our group include prokaryote and eukaryote DNA-bending proteins, Structural Maintenance of Chromosome protein complexes and other DNA-loop-forming proteins, site-specific DNA recombinases, and the proteins responsible for assembling chromatin onto DNA. Our group also studies whole chromosomes microdissected from cells, using micron-scale tools; we have carried out experiments which have established a new "chromatin network" model of the interior of the mitotic chromosomes of animal cells. We are working on using siRNA methods to shut off specific chromosome-folding proteins to study their function via measurements of chromosome mechanics.