Imperial College London, United Kingdom
All cells of our body share the same genetic code (DNA), but different cells and tissues perform different functions. It is actually the gene expression pattern (which genes are on or off) that give cells distinct functionalities. Specific gene expression patterns are established during a process of cellular differentiation, where stem cells become more specialised cells. During differentiation, regulator proteins called transcription factors binding to specific target genes and recruit other co-regulator proteins to control the expression of these genes.
Using a combination of biochemical/biophysical techniques, I want to understand how transcription factors bind target genes and what proteins are recruited that allows them to drive the correct gene expression programmes during differentiation.
Studying the mechanisms underlying gene expression is critical if we want to understand how these pathways are perturbed in disease and enable the development of therapeutics that can correct gene expression without altering the DNA.