Van Leeuwen Lab Profile
Research Focus: Heritable Gene Silencing in Budding Yeast
In eukaryotic cells the DNA is packaged into chromatin by histone proteins. Post-translational modifications of the histone proteins and methylation of DNA can result in heritable changes in gene expression without changes in the actual genetic code. These epigenetic changes can lead to stable tumor-suppressor gene inactivation or oncogene activation and have been shown to contribute to tumorigenesis. The mechanisms by which epigenetic imprints are established or prevented are still poorly understood. Many chromatin modifiers are conserved from yeast to humans. Our group uses the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a powerful model system to identify new epigenetic regulators and to unravel the molecular mechanisms by which chromatin-modifying enzymes affect chromatin structure and gene expression.