The focus of our research is to understand the biology of human gene regulatory elements such as enhancers in the non-coding genome and how transcription factors in control and modulate gene expression in health and disease. Currently, three lines of research are ongoing in the laboratory:
Role of defined transcription factors in cell fate and organ-specific cancer
We are developing a novel cell fate conversion assay to study the early regulatory events in pancreatic cancer – one of the most lethal cancer types currently lacking clear diagnostic markers and effective treatment options. By combining our novel approach to multi-layered omics data from next-generation sequencing-based methods, we can study how lineage-specific transcription factors collaborate with oncogenes to orchestrate early events of tumorigenesis at single-cell resolution.
Non-coding regulatory genome and enhancer malfunction in cancer
Non-coding genome is a vast resource of regulatory elements utilized by transcription factors to orchestrate cell type- and context-specific gene expression. Cancer cells can hijack and repurpose these elements for activating tumorigenic signaling pathways. Our goal is to understand enhancer reprogramming and malfunction using a plethora of functional genomics methods in several cancer types originating from cells of endodermal lineage.
Epigenome reprogramming during progression of cancer
In this translational project, we are studying the role of defined lineage-specific transcription factors and epigenome reprogramming during prostate cancer progression using hospital biobank cohort. Transcriptional and epigenetic features as well as topological constraints in chromatin will be systematically analyzed using genome-wide functional genomics methods for better understanding of disease progression and evolution.