Areas of Research
- Genetic Functional Screens Research
- Epigenetics Research
- Transcriptional Regulation
Welcome to the Xu Laboratory at MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis.
The Xu laboratory has developed a series of computational tools to aid in performing genetic functional screens and the analysis of protein-DNA interactions. Using these tools, they explore protein functions, regulatory relationships, and molecular mechanisms in a high-throughput manner. Their current research is focused on optimizing and applying CRISPR systems, which enable systematic perturbational studies on transcription factors and epigenetic regulators.
The long-term interest of the Xu laboratory is to apply computational approaches combined with high-throughput biotechnologies to discover mechanisms of transcriptional and epigenetic regulation. Transcription factors (TFs) and epigenetic regulators are nuclear proteins that mediate changes in gene transcription and chromatin structure, which in turn contribute to the establishment and maintenance of cellular traits. These proteins often form complex regulatory networks to execute their functions. Many TFs and epigenetic regulators are mutated or dysregulated in cancers, leading to perturbation of equilibrium in regulatory networks, causing vulnerability of cancer cells. Therefore, a “systematic view” of transcriptional and epigenetic regulation will enable the development of new therapeutic approaches to treat cancer patients.
Current areas of research:
i) Computational modeling and prediction of CRISPR on-target efficiency and off-target effects
ii) Development of high-throughput CRISPR screening approaches for identifying synthetic lethality among epigenetic regulators
iii) Repurposing CRISPR screens for high-throughput identification of essential protein domains in TFs and epigenetic regulators