Epigenomics of Allele-specific Gene Expression in Normal Cells and in Cancer
Establishment and maintenance of active or inactive epigenetic states are fundamental processes in metazoan biology. In mammals, two well-known classes of epigenetic gene silencing are imprinting (where for some genes, the copy inherited from the mother is silenced, while for other genes, the paternal copy is turned off) and X chromosome inactivation (in each female cell, one whole copy of the X chromosome is inactivated). Our research has shown that each pair of autosomes has multiple loci behaving in a manner similar to X inactivation. Research in the laboratory is focused on the questions concerning allele-specific regulation of gene expression, particularly in the genes subject to the "random" monoallelic expression (MAE). Our lab mission is to identify factors that control the choice of the active allele of MAE genes; to understand how clone-specific MAE is established and maintained; to understand the evolutionary forces affecting the genes with MAE and resulting from MAE of genes; and to uncover how autosomal MAE impacts normal development and human disease.