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David MacAlpine

Associate Professor
Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
919.681.6077
Research Interest: 
Cell cycle
Genetics
Nucleic acid metabolism
Research Summary: 
Mechanisms by which the molecular architecture of the chromosome regulates fundamental biological processes such as replication and transcription.
Research Description: 

Our laboratory is interested in understanding the mechanisms by which the molecular architecture of the chromosome regulates fundamental biological processes such as replication and transcription. Specifically, how are replication, transcription and chromatin modification coordinated on a genomic scale to maintain genomic stability? We are addressing this question by using genomic, computational and biochemical approaches in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster.

DNA replication is an essential cell cycle event required for the timely and accurate duplication of chromosomes. Replication initiates at multiple sites (called origins of replication) distributed across each chromosome. The failure to properly regulate origin selection and activation may result in catastrophic genomic instability and potentially tumorigenesis. Recent metazoan genomic studies have demonstrated a correlation between time of DNA replication and transcriptional activity, with actively transcribed regions of the genome being replicated early. However, the underlying mechanism of this correlation remains unclear. By systematically characterizing the replication dynamics of multiple cell types, each with distinct transcriptional programs, we will be in a position to understand how these processes are coordinated.

Another goal of the laboratory is to identify the chromosomal features that direct and regulate metazoan DNA replication. Origins of DNA replication are marked by the formation of multi-protein complex, called the preRC. Despite conservation of the proteins that comprise the preRC in all eukaryotes, very little is known about the sequence elements required for the selection and regulation of metazoan origins. We are using genomic tiling microarrays to systematically map all the sites of preRC assembly in the Drosophila genome. The high resolution mapping of thousands of replication origins will provide an unprecedented opportunity to use both computational approaches and comparative genomics to identify cis-acting elements that may regulate replication.

Publications: 
Comprehensive analysis of the chromatin landscape in Drosophila melanogaster.
Kharchenko PV, Alekseyenko AA, Schwartz YB, Minoda A, Riddle NC, Ernst J, Sabo PJ, Larschan E, Gorchakov AA, Gu T, Linder-Basso D, Plachetka A, Shanower G, Tolstorukov MY, Luquette LJ, Xi R, Jung YL, Park RW, Bishop EP, Canfield TK, Sandstrom R, Thurman RE, MacAlpine DM, Stamatoyannopoulos JA, Kellis M, Elgin SC, Kuroda MI, Pirrotta V, Karpen GH, Park PJ.
Nature. 2011. 471:480-5.

Identification of functional elements and regulatory circuits by Drosophila modENCODE.
modENCODE Consortium, Roy S, Ernst J, Kharchenko PV, Kheradpour P, Negre N, Eaton ML, Landolin JM, Bristow CA, Ma L, Lin MF, Washietl S, Arshinoff BI, Ay F, Meyer PE, Robine N, Washington NL, Di Stefano L, Berezikov E, Brown CD, Candeias R, Carlson JW, Carr A, Jungreis I, Marbach D, Sealfon R, Tolstorukov MY, Will S, Alekseyenko AA, Artieri C, Booth BW, Brooks AN, Dai Q, Davis CA, Duff MO, Feng X, Gorchakov AA, Gu T, Henikoff JG, Kapranov P, Li R, MacAlpine HK, Malone J, Minoda A, Nordman J, Okamura K, Perry M, Powell SK, Riddle NC, Sakai A, Samsonova A, Sandler JE, Schwartz YB, Sher N, Spokony R, Sturgill D, van Baren M, Wan KH, Yang L, Yu C, Feingold E, Good P, Guyer M, Lowdon R, Ahmad K, Andrews J, Berger B, Brenner SE, Brent MR, Cherbas L, Elgin SC, Gingeras TR, Grossman R, Hoskins RA, Kaufman TC, Kent W, Kuroda MI, Orr-Weaver T, Perrimon N, Pirrotta V, Posakony JW, Ren B, Russell S, Cherbas P, Graveley BR, Lewis S, Micklem G, Oliver B, Park PJ, Celniker SE, Henikoff S, Karpen GH, Lai EC, MacAlpine DM, Stein LD, White KP, Kellis M.
Science. 2010. 330:1787-97.

Chromatin signatures of the Drosophila replication program.
Eaton ML, Prinz JA, MacAlpine HK, Tretyakov G, Kharchenko PV, MacAlpine DM.
Genome Res. 2011. 21:164-74.

Preferential re-replication of Drosophila heterochromatin in the absence of geminin.
Ding Q, MacAlpine DM.
PLoS Genet. 2010. 6:e1001112.

Conserved nucleosome positioning defines replication origins.
Eaton ML, Galani K, Kang S, Bell SP, MacAlpine DM.
Genes Dev. 2010. 24:748-53.