Medical Research

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Marcey Waters
Chapel Hill, NC
December 2012

The DNA in our cells encodes all the information necessary to specify every aspect of our growth and development. However, a second layer of information — epigenetic information in the form of methylation (a type of molecular tag) of DNA and DNA-associated proteins — is key to accessing the information encoded by DNA. Recent insights show that a wide range of proteins encoded by our genes are methylated, and studies suggest this methylation may be linked to a wide range of diseases, including cancer. However, because of the lack of appropriate tools, we currently know little about the total number of proteins methylated, how aberrant protein methylation contributes to human disease, or how the enzymes that establish this methylation are influenced by other chemical modifications they encounter in the methylation process. The investigators propose to develop new chemical tools for the detection of protein methylation that circumvent the limitations of currently available biological tools. These reagents will be applied to address the fundamental questions raised above, and will lay the foundation for a comprehensive understanding of the role protein methylation plays in human biology and disease.

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