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  UPCOMING EVENTS   Selected Seminar        
Date: 22 February 2017
Time: 11:00am | Level 3, IMCB Seminar Room 3-46, Proteos
Speaker: Dr. Ali Shilatifard
Title: Principles of Epigenetics and Chromatin in Development and Human Disease

Epigenetic regulation of gene expression in metazoans is central for establishing cellular diversity, and the perturbation of this process results in pathological conditions. Although transcription factors are essential for implementing gene expression programs, they do not function in isolation and require the recruitment of various chromatin-modifying and remodeling machineries. A classic example of developmental gene expression through chromatin is the regulation of the balanced activities of the Polycomb group (PcG) proteins within the PRC1 and PRC2 complexes, and the Trithorax group (TrxG) proteins within the COMPASS family. Recent large scale genome sequencing efforts of human cancer have demonstrated that PcG and COMPASS subunits are highly mutated in a large number of human solid tumors and hematological malignancies. I will discuss our laboratory’s latest biochemical and genetic studies defining the molecular properties of COMPASS and PcG families in the regulation of gene expression, during development, the central role they play in cancer pathogenesis, and how we have taken advantage of such basic molecular information to develop targeted therapeutics for the treatment of hematological malignancies, pediatric brain cancer, and other forms of solid tumors.

Dr. Ali Shilatifard, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, is a world renown biochemist and molecular biologist and a respected expert in the field of transcription and epigenetics, specifically as it relates to cancer biology. Shilatifard has an immense interest in understanding the intricate molecular mechanisms of the regulation of gene expression, the mechanisms that activate or suppress a particular gene’s trait. As a Jane Coffin Childs postdoctoral fellow, Shilatifard made a seminal contribution to the field of leukemia biology by identifying the first function of any of the MLL translocation partners, which is when a section of one chromosome changes place with that of another chromosome creating a mutation. Since then, he has continued to contribute to the field of transcription, chromatin biology, and cancer biology through many discoveries including those of the COMPASS and SEC complexes, which are demonstrating to be central to the mechanisms involved in the development of leukemia and other in cancer development. The Shilatifard lab’s focused studies over the past 15 years have made significant inroads to understanding the cause of childhood leukemia, and his studies are leading to the development of extremely promising target-specific drugs for childhood leukemia and other forms of cancers.

Host: Dr. Chengqi Lin


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