Kaushik Ragunathan, Ph.D.
Our bodies consist of billions of genetically identical cells that have the capacity to display distinct phenotypic or epigenetic states. The post-translational modification of histones is a major pathway that shapes cell type specific patterns of gene expression without any alterations to the underlying DNA sequence. Changes in histone modifications accompany regulatory processes that are critical for normal development and their misregulation is often associated with cancer pathogenesis. Our research focusses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that mediate the establishment and inheritance of transcriptionally active and silent epigenetic gene expression states. We combine discovery based methods involving genetics and biochemical purifications of protein complexes with highly sensitive single molecule and single cell visualization approaches.
Yan Zhang, Ph.D.
CRISPR-Cas is a RNA-guided, genetic interference pathway in prokaryotes that enables acquired immunity against invasive nucleic acids. Nowadays, CRISPRs also provide formidable tools for facile, programmable genome engineering in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Cas9 proteins are the “effector” endonuclease for CRISPR interference; and have recently begun to be also recognized as important players in other aspects of bacterial physiology (e.g. acquisition of new spacers into CRISPRs, gene regulation, and microbial pathogenesis, etc.).
My laboratory is broadly interested in the biology and molecular mechanisms of CRISPR-Cas9 systems. We employ complementary biochemical, microbiological, genetic and genomic approaches. We use Neisseria species as our primary model organisms, and E. coli and human cells as additional platforms. We are also interested in working with the broader scientific community to develop and apply novel CRISPR-based tools to tackle diverse biological questions.