My laboratory focuses on the role of transcription factors in regulating tissue-specific gene expression during vertebrate ontogeny. In a first area of interest, we are examining the molecular mechanisms by which stage-specific transcription factors regulate multigene loci, using the beta-globin gene locus and the erythroid gene differentiation program as models. Specifically, we are interested in the characterizing the co-factors that modulate specific events during chromatin remodeling and enhancer-promoter interactions. Evolving studies are grappling with the problems related to coordinate regulation of the hundreds of genes required for erythroid differentiation. In complementary experiments, we have recently embarked on addressing similar questions in the leukemic stem cell.
In a second area of interest, we are exploring the role of transcription factors in cellular migration. Focusing our efforts on the grainy head family of transcription factors, we are seeking to understand their broad tissue and developmentally-specific role in ectodermal morphogenesis. We study these problems in mice and Xenopus, utilizing the complementary strengths of these systems to understand the role of these factors in the complex gene regulatory cascades that are characteristic of neural tube closure, neural crest development, and epidermal differentiation.