Jian Xu Laboratory
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research
American Society of Hematology Scholar
Our research focuses on the intersection of transcriptional control with stem cell biology, hematopoiesis and cancer. We employ epigenetics, functional genomics, genome editing, biochemistry and mouse genetics to define epigenetic and genetic programs that control stem cell development, and how these processes go awry in cancer progression.
Gene expression and cell fate decisions are controlled by both tissue-specific and broadly expressed transcription factors acting in concert with epigenetic regulators. Epigenetic alterations often drive the pathogenesis of human cancers. We are investigating the epigenetic and genetic basis of disease-associated genes and gene networks in blood cell development and disorders, focusing on both single gene (‘micro’) and genomic (‘macro’) levels.
In a micro view, we study the transcriptional regulation of the clinically important genetic switch of the human hemoglobin genes. In a macro view, we systematically characterize the contribution of both cis-acting (non-coding regulatory genome) and trans-acting (epigenetic regulators) elements in stem cell function and cancer.
By comparing the ontogeny of gene regulatory networks in normal and neoplastic hematopoiesis, we aim to understand how the non-coding regulatory genome, lineage-specifying regulators, epigenetic modulators and environmental signals cooperate to control developmental potency, and how aberration lead to cancer development.
Our studies promise to not only advance our understanding of the context-specific roles of driver mutations in cancer pathogenesis, but also provide critical insights into developing novel therapeutic approaches for target-based cancer interventions.