- Research unit
Transcriptional regulation is a complex process requiring the recruitment of RNA Polymerase to directed sites of transcription, modification of the local chromatin structure, and coordinated splicing and export of the novel transcript. A breakdown in the coordination of this process, such as misdirected transcription, that inappropriately activates genes that alter the cells normal behaviour, can result in the development of cancer. In order to clearly understand the exact nature of the defect, it is necessary to acquire a global view of the cellular system.
Our research team is currently interested in using the latest high-throughput technologies (like next-generation DNA sequencing) to elucidate the connections underlying transcriptional activity and cancer biology. More specifically, we are applying these approaches to the study of pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML) which often have rearrangements in the Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) gene. We also work with a human model system that allows us to generate leukemias from healthy cord blood samples using the same MLL fusion genes seen in patients. The RNA-seq and epigenetic data generated from these models, along with patient samples, has allowed us to gain a better understanding of the molecular machinery behind this disease and will ultimately better enable us to develop novel drugs and treatments.