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

Credentials: Dermatology Department

Position title: Mechanism of cancer development & novel approaches for cancer management

Email: nahmad@wisc.edu

Elaine Alarid

Credentials: Oncology Department

Position title: Molecular mechanisms of steroid hormone action

Email: alarid@oncology.wisc.edu

Reid Alisch

Credentials: Neurological Surgery Department

Position title: Neuroepigenetics of human behavior

Email: alisch@wisc.edu

Emery Bresnick

Credentials: Cell & Regenerative Biology Department

Position title: Normal and malignant hematopoiesis; epigenetics; molecular medicine

Email: ehbresni@wisc.edu

David Brow

Credentials: Biomolecular Chemistry Department

Position title: DNA transcription and RNA splicing in yeast

Email: dabrow@wisc.edu

Dawn Davis

Credentials: Medicine, Division of Endocrinology

Position title: Pancreatic islet biology

Email: dbd@medicine.wisc.edu

John Denu

Credentials: Biomolecular Chemistry Department

Position title: Mechanisms of chromatin dynamics, epigenetics, metabolism, and signaling

Email: jmdenu@wisc.edu

Feyza Engin

Credentials: Biomolecular Chemistry Department

Position title: Endoplasmic reticulum stress, organelle dysfunction, unfolded protein response, beta cell function and diabetes

Email: fengin@wisc.edu

Amy Fowler

Credentials: Radiology Department

Position title: Molecular imaging of steroid receptors in breast cancer

Email: afowler@wisc.edu

Audrey Gasch

Credentials: Genetics Department

Position title: Genomic expression in response to stress

Email: agasch@wisc.edu

Richard Gourse

Credentials: Bacteriology Department

Position title: Control of transcription initiation

Email: rgourse@bact.wisc.edu

Zhen Huang

Credentials: Neurology Department

Position title: Cerebral cortex development, neuronel migration, dendrite development

Email: z.huang@neurology.wisc.edu

Eric Johannsen

Credentials: Medicine Department

Position title: Transcription, Growth Transformation, Notch Signaling

Email: ejohannsen@medicine.wisc.edu

Jeffrey Johnson

Credentials: Pharmacy Department

Position title: Signal transduction, neurotoxicity, and transcriptional control of neuroprotective genes

Email: jeffrey.johnson@wisc.edu

Joan Jorgensen

Credentials: Comparative Biosciences Department

Position title: Transcriptional control of gonad development

Email: joan.jorgensen@wisc.edu

Junsu Kang

Credentials: Cell & Regenerative Biology Department

Position title: Regeneration, zebrafish, enhancer, fin, heart

Email: junsu.kang@wisc.edu

Robert Landick

Credentials: Biochemistry Department

Position title: Control of transcription elongation; RNA polymerase structure/function

Email: landick@bact.wisc.edu

Youngsook Lee

Credentials: Cell & Regenerative Biology Department

Position title: Molecular regulation of cardiovascular development, disease, function and cardiomyogenesis

Email: youngsooklee@wisc.edu

Peter Lewis

Credentials: Biomolecular Chemistry Department

Position title: Chromatin dynamics in cancer

Email: pwlewis2@wisc.edu

Yun Liang

Credentials: Medical Microbiology & Immunology Department

Position title: Molecular basis for sexual dimorphism

Email: liang95@wisc.edu

Bo Liu

Credentials: Surgery Department

Position title: Cell death, signal transduction, extracellular matrix, inflammation, vascular disease

Email: liub@surgery.wisc.edu

Ahmed Mahmoud

Credentials: Cell & Regenerative Biology Department

Position title: Mammalian Heart Regeneration

Email: aimahmoud@wisc.edu

Kinjal Majumder

Credentials: Oncology Department

Position title: Mechanisms of virus localization to cellular DNA breaks

Email: kmajumder@wisc.edu

Shigeki Miyamoto

Credentials: Oncology Department

Position title: Regulatory mechanisms of Rel/NF-kappaB transcription factors

Email: smiyamot@wisc.edu

Freya Mowat

Credentials: Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Department

Position title: Retinal photoreceptor metabolism and aging

Email: mowat@wisc.edu

Donna Neumann

Credentials: Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Department

Position title: 3D chromatin control of DNA viruses

Email: dneumann3@wisc.edu

Xuan Pan

Credentials: Medical Sciences Department

Position title: Epigenetic regulation, hematopoiesis, mouse models

Email: xpan24@wisc.edu

Francisco Pelegri

Credentials: Genetics Department

Position title: Genetic control of zebrafish embryogenesis

Email: fjpelegri@wisc.edu

Avtar Roopra

Credentials: Neuroscience Department

Position title: Regulation of chromatin structure in neurons and cancer

Email: asroopra@wisc.edu

Lixin Rui

Credentials: Medicine Department

Position title: Molecular pathogenesis of lymphoma

Email: lrui@medicine.wisc.edu

Vijay Setaluri

Credentials: Dermatology Department

Position title: Cell and molecular biology of skin in health and disease

Email: vsetaluri@dermatology.wisc.edu

Judith Simcox

Credentials: Biochemistry Department

Position title: Lipid metabolism in cold exposure

Email: jsimcox@wisc.edu

Rupa Sridharan

Credentials: Cell & Regenerative Biology Department

Position title: Epigenetics, somatic cell reprogramming, cell fate change

Email: rsridharan2@wisc.edu

John Svaren

Credentials: Comparative Biosciences Department

Position title: Transcriptional regulation of peripheral nerve myelination

Email: jpsvaren@wisc.edu

Han Wang

Credentials: Integrative Biology Department

Position title: Genetic and circuit dissection of sleep

Email: han.wang@wisc.edu

David Wassarman

Credentials: Medical Genetics Department

Position title: Neurodegeneration in Drosophila

Email: dawassarman@wisc.edu

Jyoti Watters

Credentials: Comparative Biosciences Department

Position title: Signal transduction and epigenetic regulation of microglial gene transcription and immune function

Email: jjwatters@wisc.edu

Deneen Wellik

Credentials: Cell & Regenerative Biology Department

Position title: Hox genes, Organogenesis, Regeneration, mesenchymal stem cells, Mouse genetics

Email: wellik@wisc.edu

Wei Xu

Credentials: Oncology Department

Position title: Epigenetic regulation of breast cancer

Email: wxu@oncology.wisc.edu

Jerry Yin

Credentials: Genetics Department

Position title: Cellular/molecular mechanisms of memory formation and psychiatric dysfunction

Email: jcyin@wisc.edu

Fei Zhao

Credentials: Comparative Biosciences Department

Position title: Sexual differentiation of reproductive tracts

Email: fei.zhao@wisc.edu

Xinyu Zhao

Credentials: Neuroscience Department

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

Email: xinyu.zhao@wisc.edu

Xuehua Zhong

Credentials: Genetics Department

Position title: Epigenetic regulation in plants

Email: xzhong28@wisc.edu