Misregulation of chromatin structure in disease

A cell’s DNA does not exist as a single extended string of nucleic acids in the way often imagined, but rather is packed and folded in a myriad of ways to form a complex three dimensional structure. At least some of this structure is thought to be important for the regulation of gene expression. Transcription of metazoan genes is regulated by sequences known as enhancers which integrate diverse signals to make decisions about expression, and then communicate these decisions through their interactions with promoters. This communication is thought to take place via physical interactions between promoters and enhancers.

Together with collaborators from the Imperial University we are investigating how this three dimensional structure might contribute to the mis-regulation of gene expression in both monogenic disease and cancer using high-throughput, next-generation sequencing based assays of chromatin conformation.