Areas of Research
- Epigenetics Research
- DNA Repair Research
- DNA Damage Response
- Chromatin Remodelers Research
- Nuclear Actin Research
The Shen laboratory is answering basic questions concerning the regulation and maintenance of the eukaryotic genome, which is organized into chromatin. ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling, which is carried out by large protein complexes of the SWI/SNF family, is recognized as a major mode of chromatin modification. Our research focuses on understanding how chromatin is remodeled to accommodate various nuclear functions, such as transcription and DNA repair, and how defects in chromatin remodeling might lead to cancer. We also have a special interest in the function of nuclear actin.
The Shen laboratory, located near Austin at Science Park, seeks to define new paradigms in the maintenance of the eukaryotic genome. While classical studies on the DNA damage response have focused on DNA, we are now addressing the role of chromatin in genome integrity. Chromatin is modified via two major modes, mechanisms that involve ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling and mechanisms that involve histone modification. We are interested in understanding how these chromatin-modifying activities are involved in the DNA damage response and how alterations in their activities lead to cancer.
We use the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system, taking advantage of its powerful genetics and well-developed biochemical tools. Our current research focuses on a novel and evolutionarily conserved class of ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes called the INO80 class. The study of the INO80 complex has led us to two main areas of research in the lab: the DNA damage response, and the regulation of nuclear actin.