Gerton Lab 2013

Research Summary

Chromosomes are organized in the nuclear space. This organization both influences and is influenced by many chromosomal processes such as replication, repair, gene expression, condensation, nucleolar function, and segregation. In the Gerton lab we are interested in the interplay between chromosome organization and preservation of genomic function. Our research program takes advantage of yeast and mammalian model systems and uses genomics, genetics, microscopy, molecular biology, and biochemistry to study processes that contribute to chromosome maintenance.

One group of evolutionarily conserved proteins that influence many different chromosomal processes are the structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) proteins.  These proteins are components of large ring shaped complexes that associate with chromosomes at many sites. There are three different types of SMC complexes: cohesin, condensin, and Smc5/6. Mutations that affect cohesin and Smc5/6 cause human developmental syndromes. Mutations in cohesin also act as drivers for cancer. Loss of cohesion in old oocytes contributes to chromosome loss, known as the maternal age effect. Understanding the defects in SMC regulated chromosome metabolism in aging, cancer, and development is a major focus of the Gerton lab. If we can elucidate how SMC complexes contribute to the maintenance of the genome we will understand how SMC complexes contribute to human health and disease.

A second evolutionarily conserved protein complex that contributes to chromosome maintenance is the kinetochore. Kinetochores are large macromolecular complexes that connect centromeres to microtubules for chromosome segregation. The Gerton lab is interested in the dynamics of centromeres and kinetochores over the cell cycle and how these dynamics are regulated.
News & Updates Recent Publications

June 2017 - Congratulations to Karthik Dhatchinamoorthy on his successful thesis defense! Pictured here with his committee.

Kobe C. Yuen, Brian D. Slaughter, & Jennifer L. Gerton.

Condensin II is anchored by TFIIIC and H3K4me3 in the mammalian genome and supports the expression of active dense gene clusters. Science Advances. 2017. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1700191 Abstract

Cancer cells may streamline their genomes in order to proliferate more easily

Research from the Stowers Institute provides evidence suggesting that cancer cells might streamline their genomes in order to proliferate more easily. The study, conducted in both human and mouse cells, shows that cancer genomes lose copies of repetitive sequences known as ribosomal DNA.

Baoshan Xu, Hua Li, John M. Perry, Vijay Pratap Singh, Jay Unruh, Zulin Yu, Musinu Zakari, William McDowell, Linheng Li, & Jennifer L. Gerton

Ribosomal DNA copy number loss and sequence variation in cancer. PLoS Genetics. 2017. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006771 Abstract


Condensin II is anchored by TFIIIC and H3K4me3 in the mammalian genome and supports the expression of active dense gene clusters

Structural maintenance of chromosome complexes, such as cohesin, have been implicated in a wide variety of chromatin-dependent functions such as genome organization, replication, and gene expression. How these complexes find their sites of association and affect local chromosomal processes is not well understood.


Xu 2015Dong Hwan Kim, Bethany Harris, Fei Wang, Chris Seidel, Scott McCroskey, and Jennifer L. Gerton.

Mms21 SUMO Ligase Activity Promotes Nucleolar Function in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Genetics. 2016. doi: 10.1534/genetics.115.181750 Abstract


May 2017 - Congratulations to the first graduate from the Stowers Graduate Program - Kobe Yuen! A huge accomplishment - we couldn't be prouder! Good luck to you in all that you do!

Xu 2015Dong Hwan Kim, Andrew C. Box, Hua Li, and Jennifer L. Gerton.

Using fluorescent reporters in conjunction with cytometry and statistics to assess nuclear accumulation of ribosomal proteins. MiMB 2016. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-6545-8_13 Abstract

Stowers has been selected to host an ASBMB Special Symposium:

Photo credit Marina Feric and Cliff Brangwynne

Xu 2015Baoshan Xu, Madelaine Gogol, Karin Gaudenz, and Jennifer L. Gerton.

Improved transcription and translation with L-leucine stimulation of mTORC1 in Roberts syndrome. BMC Genomics. 2015. doi: 10.1186/s12864-015-2354-y Abstract


We are pleased to announce that the Gerton Lab has been honored with designation as a Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Center for Excellence!

Cover WebKobe Yuen, Baoshan Xu, Ian D. Krantz, and Jennifer L. Gerton.

NIPBL controls RNA biogenesis to prevent activation of the stress kinase PKR.Cell Reports.2015. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep. 2015.12.012. Abstract


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