Dr. Sharon Y.R. Dent
Professor & Chair
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis
Director, Science Park
Director, Center for Cancer Epigenetics
The Virginia Harris Cockrell Cancer Research Center
My laboratory is located in Smithville, Texas, at UT Science Park
DNA associates with an octamer of histone proteins in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells to form the nucleosome, which serves as the building block for higher-order chromatin structures. The Dent Laboratory studies the role of chromatin and chromatin-modifying proteins in regulating gene expression, genome integrity and other essential cellular processes. A variety of model systems are used, including yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), mice, embryonic stem (ES) cells and various tissue culture cell lines. In yeast, the Dent lab uses genetic and biochemical approaches to define the functions of the Set1 methyltransferase and has discovered unexpected functions for this enzyme in the regulation of mitosis. This work has also identified novel nodes of regulatory cross-talk between post-translational modifications in histone and non-histone proteins. In mice, research includes gene targeting and transgenic approaches to understand the functions of histone acetyltransferases (GCN5 and PCAF) and deubiquitinases (USP22, USP27X) during mouse development and in adult tissues. Our overall goal is to understand the importance of chromatin remodeling and epigenetics in normal cell growth and development. We then hope to gain insights into how misregulation of these activities contributes to disease states, including various cancers.
Tutorials in my lab provide experience in basic techniques in molecular biology, genetics, mouse knockout technologies, and biochemistry.