University of Wisconsin–Madison
Photo: A Drosophila embryo stained for Zelda shows that it is ubiquitously expressed when the genome is activated.

Zelda activates transcription from the zygotic genome

Transcriptional Mechanisms

Photo: A Drosophila embryo stained for Zelda shows that it is ubiquitously expressed when the genome is activated. Chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrated that Zelda binds broadly to CAGGTA motifs at this stage of development. Photo courtesy of the Harrison lab.

While the DNA genome encodes all the information required for organismal survival, it must be differentially interpreted to respond to developmental and environmental cues. Thus, a major theme in cellular and molecular biology is understanding how genes are expressed from the DNA genome and how failure to properly control expression can lead to developmental defects and diseases, such as cancer. While gene expression is regulated at many levels, the fundamental first step is transcription of the DNA genome into RNA. Members of the Transcriptional Mechanism Focus Group study a wide array of processes that control transcription, including the molecular mechanisms of the polymerase enzymes, the role of transcription factors in determining what areas of the genome are expressed, and how chromatin structure influences transcription. Researchers attack these challenging and important problems using a diversity of state-of-the-art techniques, ranging from biochemistry to genetics to genomics, and in organisms, ranging from bacteria to flies to mice.

The Transcriptional Mechanisms Focus Group interfaces with a number of initiatives on campus, including an epigenetics-focused initiative. To facilitate communication and collaboration amongst members, the Focus Group hosts monthly talks in which students and postdocs present their research to a broad audience. (e-mail cmb@bocklabs.wisc.edu to be added to the mailing list.)

Photo of Melissa Harrison

Focus Group Chair Melissa Harrison
Biomolecular Chemistry Department
Zygotic genome transcriptional activation
mharrison3@wisc.edu

Focus Group Members

Nihal Ahmad

Dermatology Department

Mechanism of cancer development & novel approaches for cancer management

nahmad@wisc.edu

Elaine Alarid

Oncology Department

Molecular mechanisms of steroid hormone action

alarid@oncology.wisc.edu

Reid Alisch

Neurological Surgery Department

Neuroepigenetics of human behavior

alisch@wisc.edu

Aseem Ansari

Biochemistry Department

Designing Synthetic Transcription Factors (SynTFs) for precision medicine

azansari@wisc.edu

Emery Bresnick

Cell & Regenerative Biology Department

Normal and malignant hematopoiesis; epigenetics; molecular medicine

ehbresni@wisc.edu

David Brow

Biomolecular Chemistry Department

DNA transcription and RNA splicing in yeast

dabrow@wisc.edu

John Denu

Biomolecular Chemistry Department

Mechanisms of chromatin dynamics, epigenetics, metabolism, and signaling

jmdenu@wisc.edu

Amy Fowler

Radiology Department

Molecular imaging of steroid receptors in breast cancer

afowler@wisc.edu

Audrey Gasch

Genetics Department

Genomic expression in response to stress

agasch@wisc.edu

Richard Gourse

Bacteriology Department

Control of transcription initiation

rgourse@bact.wisc.edu

Zhen Huang

Neurology Department

Cerebral cortex development, neuronel migration, dendrite development

z.huang@neurology.wisc.edu

Eric Johannsen

Medicine Department

Transcription, Growth Transformation, Notch Signaling

ejohannsen@medicine.wisc.edu

Jeffrey Johnson

Pharmacy Department

Signal transduction, neurotoxicity, and transcriptional control of neuroprotective genes

jeffrey.johnson@wisc.edu

Joan Jorgensen

Comparative Biosciences Department

Transcriptional control of gonad development

joan.jorgensen@wisc.edu

Junsu Kang

Cell & Regenerative Biology Department

Regeneration, zebrafish, enhancer, fin, heart

junsu.kang@wisc.edu

Robert Landick

Biochemistry Department

Control of transcription elongation; RNA polymerase structure/function

landick@bact.wisc.edu

Youngsook Lee

Cell & Regenerative Biology Department

Molecular regulation of cardiovascular development, disease, function and cardiomyogenesis

youngsooklee@wisc.edu

Peter Lewis

Biomolecular Chemistry Department

Chromatin dynamics in cancer

pwlewis2@wisc.edu

Bo Liu

Surgery Department

Cell death, signal transduction, extracellular matrix, inflammation, vascular disease

liub@surgery.wisc.edu

Ahmed Mahmoud

Cell & Regenerative Biology Department

Mammalian Heart Regeneration

aimahmoud@wisc.edu

Shigeki Miyamoto

Oncology Department

Regulatory mechanisms of Rel/NF-kappaB transcription factors

smiyamot@wisc.edu

Avtar Roopra

Neuroscience Department

Regulation of chromatin structure in neurons and cancer

asroopra@wisc.edu

Lixin Rui

Medicine Department

Molecular pathogenesis of lymphoma

lrui@medicine.wisc.edu

Vijay Setaluri

Dermatology Department

Cell and molecular biology of skin in health and disease

vsetaluri@dermatology.wisc.edu

Miriam Shelef

Medicine Department

Immune cells, autoimmunity, and arthritis

mshelef@medicine.wisc.edu

Judith Smith

Pediatrics Department

Stress regulation of cytokine production

jsmith27@pediatrics.wisc.edu

Rupa Sridharan

Cell & Regenerative Biology Department

Epigenetics, somatic cell reprogramming, cell fate change

rsridharan2@wisc.edu

John Svaren

Comparative Biosciences Department

Transcriptional regulation of peripheral nerve myelination

jpsvaren@wisc.edu

David Wassarman

Medical Genetics Department

Neurodegeneration in Drosophila

dawassarman@wisc.edu

Jyoti Watters

Comparative Biosciences Department

Signal transduction and epigenetic regulation of microglial gene transcription and immune function

jjwatters@wisc.edu

Yongna Xing

Oncology Department

Cell signaling related to caner, structural biology, biochemistry, proteomics

xing@oncology.wisc.edu

Wei Xu

Oncology Department

Epigenetic control of estrogen receptor (ER) regulated transcription

wxu@oncology.wisc.edu

Jerry Yin

Genetics Department

Cellular/molecular mechanisms of memory formation and psychiatric dysfunction

jcyin@wisc.edu

Xinyu Zhao

Neuroscience Department

Epigenetic regulation, neural stem cells, neurodevelopment, noncoding RNA, RNA binding protein, learning and memory

xinyu.zhao@wisc.edu

Xuehua Zhong

Genetics Department

Epigenetic regulation in plants

xzhong28@wisc.edu