Feng Gong, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Description of Research
Dr. Gong’s research focus is to understand how DNA repair pathways operate in eukaryotic cells to remove DNA lesions from chromatinized DNA. His laboratory is using budding yeast and cultured human cells to examine the role of histone modifications and chromatin remodeling in DNA repair.
Maintenance of genomic integrity is of fundamental importance to all living organisms. Human cancers arise in a multi-step fashion and exposure to carcinogens, such as those in tobacco smoke and UV radiation, is a major etiological factor. Defects in DNA repair are found in human diseases associated with increased cancer frequency.
Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) patients suffer from defects in nucleotide excision repair (NER) and are extremely prone to developing UV-induced skin cancers. NER is a universal pathway found in all organisms that removes a wide variety of bulky DNA adducts. In eukaryotic cells, DNA is packaged with histones and other accessory proteins into chromatin. Thus DNA repair enzymes must deal with the highly compact and dynamic structure of chromatin. Little is known about how NER is operated in the chromatin environment. Recently, Dr. Gong’s group found evidence that the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex may play an important role during NER. SWI/SNF is ubiquitously expressed, prototypical “ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes” that can use energy to manipulate nucleosome structure in response to various signals. In mammalian cells, several subunits of the human SWI/SNF complex are tumor suppressors that control cell cycle transitions. Dr. Gong’s group is investigating the involvement of human SWI/SNF in DNA damage recognition in the context of chromatin.
- Demonstration of protein-protein interaction between the DNA damage recognition proteins Rad4-Rad23 and the yeast SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex
- Identification of Gadd45a and p21 as transcriptional targets of the human Swi/Snf chromatin remodeling complex
- Demonstration of the role of human Swi/Snf in UV damage response
Selected Cancer-Related Publications
Collaborating in the Multidisciplinary Research Program(s):