Research Interests :
- Molecular basis for pluripotency and induced pluripotency
- Lineage specific differentiation
- Functional genomics of stem cells
- Transcriptional regulatory network
- Chromatin structure and function
In general, transcriptional activation results from the tethering of sequence specific DNA binding transcription factors to their cognate sites. This leads to the assembly of transcription initiation complex at promoters and subsequent transcription elongation. The mammalian genome encodes for over 2000 transcription regulators, and many of them play critical roles in orchestration of gene expression which is fundamental to cellular phenotypes and identity of the organism. Our long term goal is to dissect the functional role of transcription regulators using two complementary technologies (1. chromatin immunoprecipitation to study the location of transcription factors in living cells, and 2. RNAi depletion to examine the response of cells in the absence of the factors). This experimental strategy will allow us to probe the functional importance of the transcription factors of interest. We have setup a system for large scale RNAi to screen for transcription factors (or other proteins) involved in the regulation of cell-type specific promoter. Complemented with ChIP, we are able to dissect the functional importance of binding of transcription factors to key regulatory elements.
Our focus is on stem cell biology. We are addressing two questions:
- What makes a stem cell a stem cell?
- How to make a non-stem cell a stem cell?