What we do:

While we conventionally think of genomic DNA as a simple polymer of A's, C's, G's, and T's, the chemistry of the genome is in fact far more interesting.

Our laboratory focuses on the DNA modifying enzymes that provide an added layer of complexity to the genome. These enzymes can be involved in the purposeful introduction of mutations or in the chemical modification of nucleobases, making DNA into a remarkably dynamic entity. Many of these processes are at the heart of the battle between the immune system and pathogens or are central to epigenetics.

Our work can be broadly classified in two areas:

Enzymatic deamination, oxidation and methylation of cytosine bases, with a focus on AID/APOBEC DNA deaminases and TET oxygenases

Targeting Pathogen Pathways that Promote Evolution and Antibiotic Resistance, with a focus on the LexA/RecA axis governing the bacterial SOS response.

We utilize a broad array of approaches, which include 1) biochemical characterization of enzyme mechanisms, 2) chemical synthesis of enzyme probes, and 3) biological assays spanning bacteriology, immunology, and virology to study DNA modifying enzymes and pro-mutagenic pathways.

Our research program aims to understand diversity generating enzymes and pathways in vitro, to perturb their function in physiological settings, and to harness the biotechnological potential of these diversity-generating pathways.