Chromatin mediated regulation of gene expression
Chromatin, the mixture of DNA, histones and other proteins that makes up the chromosomes in eukaryotic nuclei, is the physiological substrate for all reactions that center on DNA. Knowledge about chromatin structure and regulation is therefore key to our understanding of gene expression, DNA repair and chromosome replication. My research uses the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae to investigate fundamental aspects of chromatin structure and function.
Histone proteins package eukaryotic DNA by forming an octameric complex around which DNA is wound to form nucleosomes. Each nucleosome usually contains two molecules of each of the core histones (H2A, H2B, H3, H4) but in a minority of nucleosomes one of the major histone proteins is replaced by a histone variant. I am interested in the H2A variant H2A.Z, which is a highly conserved protein found in species from yeasts to humans. H2A.Z, like other core histones, is post-translationally modified by acetylation and my research is currently addressing the question of whether H2A.Z acetylation is involved in gene regulation.