Description of Research Group

We are focusing on understanding the molecular function of the hematopoietic transcription factor and oncoprotein c-Myb, operating as a regulator of stem and progenitor cells in the bone marrow. c-Myb regulates genes during blood cell development and promotes specific forms of human cancers such as leukaemia, breast cancer, and colorectal cancers when deregulated. We recently discovered that c-Myb operates as a “pioneer factor”, with a particular ability to penetrate and open chromatin, important when gene programs are to be modulated [Fuglerud et al. 2017]. Modification of proteins with small ubiquitin-related modifiers (SUMOs) has recently been established as a key regulatory modification, significantly affecting transcription and chromatin organization. Research in our lab has revealed that SUMO-conjugation and –binding are important regulatory mechanisms for c-Myb function [Molværsmyr et al. 2010; Sæther et al. 2011; Ledsaak et al. 2016]. One current focus is on SENP1, an enzyme that removes SUMO from target proteins. We have identified several novel interaction partners of SENP1, which are currently under investigation to understand how the SUMO-system plays together with other control systems in the cell. One connection currently under study is a link between the SUMO-system and chromatin remodeling, which points to a role of SUMO in the highly interconnected systems of control of transcription and epigenetics.

Technology, expertise and equipment

We are using a broad range of methods from purification of proteins to imaging of cellular proteins, several protein interaction assays, a broad range of functional assays, immunological methods, enzymatic assays, spectroscopy, DNA-, RNA- and chromatin methods including global analyses such as RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, ATAC-seq. The latter also includes bioinformatics analyses.