Arizona State University
The Haynes research group uses gene and protein engineering to create new epigenetic machinery that regulates DNA at will. One day synthetic epigenetics may allow us to rationally design new biological systems with predictable, reliable behavior and replace “magic bullet medicine” with “smart medicine.” We assemble interchangeable protein modules to build synthetic transcription factors that regulate gene activity in human cells. Unlike typical synthetic transcription factors that recognize specific DNA sequences, our Polycomb-based transcription factors (“PcTFs”) are engineered to read chromatin modifications. Thus, a single engineered TF could activate a group of silenced, therapeutic genes in cancer cells. Using strong gene activators could enhance cancer treatment and advance epigenetic medicine.