The role of chromatin structure and nuclear organization in gene expression
The Wallrath lab is focused on the role of chromatin structure and nuclear organization as it relates to human disease. One research focus is the role of Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1), a protein that packages DNA in the nucleus and causes gene silencing. The other focus is on lamin proteins. Lamins make up a network of filaments that line the inside of the nuclear envelope, a double membrane that forms around the genomic DNA to make up the nucleus. Mutations in proteins that reside in the envelope give rise to numerous human diseases. The lab is studying a muscle disease called Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy that currently has no treatments. A fruit fly model has been generated to understand more about the disease and test compounds that possibly could be used for therapy.
Courses in Biology, Genetics and/or Molecular Biology preferred.
Undergraduate research will select from one of two projects. The first project is focused on HP1, a protein that packages DNA in the nucleus and plays a role in breast cancer invasion/metastasis. Both the fruit fly Drosophila and human breast cancer cells are being used as model systems. The second project is to work on a Drosophila model of Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy, a form of human muscular dystrophy that is due to mutations in a gene encoding a protein that helps to form the nuclear envelope.