We are interested in how gene expression is controlled in eukaryotes. Our main research goal is to understand molecular mechanisms responsible for assembly and disassembly of transcription preinitiation complexes at promoters, a major regulatory step in the complex process of RNA synthesis. Historically, most of our work has exploited the budding yeast system, although more recently we have addressed regulatory questions in primary human cells as well. Our main research interest in humans takes advantage of the molecular perspective gleaned from yeast and other model organisms with the overall goal of understanding how the environment in early development impacts chromatin structure and function, thereby affecting gene expression.
Chromatin Binding Dynamics
Our analysis of transcription preinitiation complex assembly led us to consider fundamental questions about chromatin binding dynamics in cells. We seek to understand not only pathways for assembly and activity of transcription complexes in vivo, but the time scales on which these processes occur, how efficient they are in a cell population, and how stable complexes are once they assemble on chromatin. To address these questions, we have developed methods that allow us to measure chromatin binding kinetics at specific chromosomal sites in cells.