The Department of Cell and Developmental Biology hosted David Allis on September 7th for the first Flexner Discovery Lecture Series of the year. David Allis' talk was titled, "Varying the terrain of epigenetic landscapes: implications for gene regulation, development and cancer"
Dr. David Allis is the Joy and Jack Fishman Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Chromatin Biology and Epigenetics at The Rockefeller University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is best known for the ‘histone code’ hypothesis of epigenetics, which proposes that post-translational modifications to histones on chromatin provide information about how neighboring genes should be expressed. ‘Writers’ are enzymes that create these modifications, while ‘readers’ detect and respond to them. The concept of the histone code arose from his discovery of the critical link between histone acetylation and gene-specific transcriptional activation, and later the link between histone phosphorylation and mitosis. His recent studies suggest a new model in which histone mutations (‘oncohistones’) represent a novel and previously unrecognized mechanism to alter epigenetic states in a variety of pathologies through inhibition of a wide range of histone methyltransferases.