DNA repair is a basic necessary function in all cells, and the mechanisms for repair or damage avoidance are evolutionarily conserved. Cells are constantly subjected to DNA damage from exogenous environmental sources, and also from endogenous oxidative metabolism. Our laboratory is interested in DNA repair mechanisms, the biological consequences of repair failure, and how DNA repair mechanisms can be used to control the epigenome of cells. A complete understanding of DNA repair pathways and the activities of DNA repair proteins can lead to the identification of cellular defects linked to cancer etiology or to targets for tumor therapy.
Another more recent area of interest for our laboratory is DNA repair in stem cells. Although stem cells hold great promise in human disease treatment, the DNA repair capabilities must be robust and the genetic stability of cells fully characterized before their use in any regenerative therapy.
To address these areas we employ both in vitro and in vivo models to examine:
1. DNA repair proteins and their functions in vitro and in vivo
2. Protein-protein interactions of DNA repair proteins
3. Biological effects of DNA repair defects—including cellular necrosis, apoptosis, and mutation
4. Exploitation of DNA repair mechanisms for therapeutic purposes