DNA damage and mutation of the human genome are the basis of carcinogenesis and often thought to be avoided at all cost. However, there are instances where DNA damage has beneficial effects. Mammals have evolved programmed DNA damage as a means to diversify the immune repertoire, protect against viral infection and instigate epigenetic reprogramming. The McBride laboratory is interested in an enzyme, activation induced deaminase (AID), which causes programmed DNA damage essential to these beneficial processes. We are seeking to understand the mechanisms that control AID activity and contribute to its proper function in immunity and epigenetic reprogramming or collateral damage in carcinogenesis.
Somatic mutation has long been a difficult process to study, hampered by the heterogeneity of mutation, rarity of events and difficulty in measuring rates and target genes. Therefore we are utilizing a novel technique with cutting-edge technology that allows single-cell mutation analysis. With this we are investigating the genetic, environmental and signaling pathway basis for nucleic acid mutation in ways previously unavailable.
The McBride lab is part of the Department of Molecular Carcinogenesis located at The Virginia Harris Cockrell Cancer Research Center at Science Park. Situated in Buescher State Park, Science Park is just minutes outside of Austin, Texas.