Understanding and exploiting CIZ1 biology

Lead researcher: Professor Dawn Coverley, Department of Biology

Disruption of epigenetic control of gene expression contributes to both the initiation and progression of human tumours.

We use the inactive X chromosome (Xi), whose genes are normally repressed by stable modification of histone proteins, as a model to understand how epigenetic landscape is maintained through cell division.

Our focus is the CIZ1 protein, previously linked with a range of common solid tumours, including lung cancer.

Recent work shows that CIZ1 condenses at Xi dependent on its intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) and directed by a long non-coding RNA.

Aggregation at Xi is required in normal cells to maintain the epigenetic status of Xi through a mechanism, taking place in S phase of the cell cycle, that we are beginning to uncover.