Laboratory of Epigenetics of Behaviour and Diseases
Our interests lie in unraveling basic molecular mechanisms of how the environment shapes us as genetic beings either within our lifetime or over short transgenerational periods, a phenomenon that seems to play a role in dictating our eventual evolutionary path. We study molecular mechanisms of, how environmental insults - modulate heritable gene expression, a hallmark of epigenetic change. We characterize these changes, both at single (candidate) gene resolution or by studying the global epigenome (chromatin remodelors, histone modifications and their effectors/modulators/readers, DNA methylation) . Our current focus in Cancer Epigenetics lies in understanding how environmental insults in the early life of an individual (be it foetal or during its infancy/adolescence/young adult) translates to either behavioural changes (eg. individual identity, sexuality) or even early onset of an array genetic diseases/disorders (eg. diabetes, obesity, neurological disorders, degenerative diseases). We assay for the very first epigenetic changes that can be detected where gene expression in normal cells get altered to a heritable mis-regulated state, cumulatively leading to a cancer specific epigenome which becomes the precursor to what eventually manifests as a genetic disease which can later be histologically classified as cancer (from stage I to IV). In lieu of discovering drugs that can interfere with these processes, we are also developing Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a model system to screen for novel epigenetically active compounds from traditional sources.
1) Mapping Bivalent Chromatin in the epigenomes of Cancers and Stem Cells (in collaboration with Johns Hopkins, USA).
2) Developing a phenotypic assay for Chlamydomonas as a model system for Epigenetics.
3) Molecular mechanisms of Epigenetic changes in Chlamydomonas
4) Discovery of de novo nucleases from Chlamydomonas and its use in epigenetics.
5) Studying evolutionary patterns of Epigenetic proteins and its co-relations with DNA packaging
6) Epigenetics of the latent HIV virus and its reactivation using epigenetic drugs (in collaboration with NIRRH, Mumbai).
Other Useful Lab Links:
Research Gate for research updates: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Subhojit_Sen