Medical Genetics Department
Epigenetic regulation of brain function
659 Waisman Center
1500 Highland Ave
Madison, WI 53705
Developmental Biology & Regenerative Medicine
Our long-term goal is to understand the molecular mechanism underlying DNA methylation-dependent epigenetic regulation of brain functions. Our current focus is on the central role of MeCP2 (methyl-CpG binding protein 2), a molecular linker between DNA methylation and chromatin remodeling and transcriptional control, in the development and function of the nervous system. The functional significance of such a molecular linker is highlighted by the fact that mutations in the MECP2 gene cause Rett syndrome (RTT), a debilitating neurodevelopmental disorder that shares many features with autism. Naturally, our studies include basic research aimed at understanding the molecular and cellular function of MeCP2 and translational research aimed at understanding disease pathology and developing effective treatment. These two types of research are tightly interwoven, because on one hand, the need to solve a practical problem in translational research will always influence the direction of basic research; and on the other hand, fundamental mechanisms revealed by basic research will ultimately guide the effort in treating/curing the disease.