Our research

An Overview of our research in GRE

The Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression consists of 12 research groups whose research is focused on the molecular machines that regulate gene function. The functions of these machines is in many cases inter-related.

For example, genetic information must be stably maintained (Anton Gartner, and Ron Hay labs – DNA repair). Every time cells divide genomes must be replicated (Julian Blow Group – DNA replication). Chromosomes must then be separated equally between the two new cells (Tomo TanakaFederico Pelisch group, Jason Swedlow groups – Chromosome segregation). DNA is assembled as chromatin which provides a platform signalling availability for transcription (Constance AlabertKasper Rasmussen group and Tom Owen-Hughes Labs – Chromatin biology). Genes need to be expressed in response to environmental and developmental cues such immune signalling (Vicky Cowling group), reproduction (Gordon Simpson group) and hematopoiesis (Kasper Rasmussen). In many cases this involves transcription factors acting to reconfigure chromatin, recruit RNA polymerases (Kasper Rasmussen group and Joost Zomerdijk groups) and RNA processing factors to generate RNA transcripts that must then be correctly processed (Angus LamondVictoria Cowling and Gordon Simpson groups).

The interplay between these processes means that there is a lot of opportunity for synergy in our research. All our research is also linked by the fact that the processes we study are linked by post-translational covalent modification (especially Ron HayAngus Lamond, and Daan van Aalten labs). In addition, there is common ground provided by experimental approaches we use. For example, characterising proteins involved in these processes using mass spectrometry cuts across all our projects and the groups of Angus Lamond and Ron Hay have helped to build world class resources and expertise in this area. Excellent shared facilities are also available for microscopy, genome sequencing, cell sorting and high throughput screening. Much of the work we do involves analysis of complex data, often using custom code or software. We are fortunate that the groups of Geoffrey BartonGabriele Schweikert, Angus Lamond and Jason Swedlow have generated resources, both for use in house and for other research groups world-wide. As well as interacting with colleagues within our division we also interact with colleagues in the disciplines of Medicine, Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics, Cell Signalling and Drug Discovery both in Dundee and beyond.

The evidence linking the molecular machines we study with important biological functions involved in human disease has recently been discovered to be stronger than previously appreciated. Links between splicing (Angus Lamond), Chromatin regulators (Kasper Rasmussen and Tom Owen-Hughes), DNA replication (Julian Blow), protein modification (Ron Hay, Daan van Aalten) and RNA capping (Victoria Cowling) and human diseases make these candidates for new therapeutic approaches. We are well placed to develop these projects often working with colleagues in the adjacent Drug Discovery Unit. Looking forward, it is our aim to apply our expertise in gene regulation to further the understanding and treatment of diseases such as cancer.