A gene's chromosomal position and local chromatin structure can have profound consequences for its expression. We are interested in all aspects of these chromosomal and chromatin effects because they underlie epigenetic processes that are critical for normal growth and development. We are particularly focused on the form of chromatin regulation known as transcriptional silencing and study its effects on yeast and human genes.
Chromatin is controlled by post-translational modification of its core subunits, the histones, and other transcriptional factors. The enzymes catalyzing these modifications include acetyltransferases, (HATs), deacetylases (HDACs), methyltransferases (MTs), kinases, and others. The enzymes work together to promote dynamic patterns of modification that help to specify epigenetic processes. We study several classes of the chromatin modifying enzymes to understand the range of their in vivo functions, including mechanisms of their activity, genomic targeting, and interaction with transcriptional and DNA repair complexes. Our experimental approaches include genetic, genomic and biochemical strategies to understand the MYST family HATs, the SIR2 family HDACs, and several classes of evolutionarily conserved MTs.
Lorraine Pillus carried out graduate studies with Frank Solomon at MIT. Her postdoctoral research with Jasper Rine at the University of California, Berkeley was supported by a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship of the Life Sciences Research Foundation. Prof. Pillus has been named a Pew Scholar and a National Science Foundation New Young Investigator and has received teaching excellence awards from the Mortar Board Honor Society and the Associated Students of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences.