Rafael Daniel Camerini-Otero, M.D., Ph.D., Chief
Harris Bernstein, Ph.D.
Peggy Hsieh, Ph.D.
The Genetics and Biochemistry Section, headed by Dan Camerini-Otero, studies the biochemistry, molecular and cell biology of meiotic (homologous) recombination in mice and humans. Current interests include the study of Spo11, the protein responsible for the hundreds of developmentally programmed breaks in mouse meiosis, what determines where these breaks are made and where crossovers are located, how homologous chromosomes find each other and how meiosis has shaped the sex chromosomes.
The Genome Dynamics Section, led by Peggy Hsieh, focuses on a highly conserved DNA repair pathway, DNA mismatch repair. Mismatch repair targets base pair mismatches that arise through DNA replication errors, homologous recombination and DNA damage. Inactivation of mismatch repair results in a large increase in the rate of spontaneous mutation and is associated with both sporadic and hereditary cancers. The Hsieh group utilizes biochemical, structural and cell biological approaches to study mechanistic questions concerning mismatch excision repair and the cellular response to DNA damage.
The Protein Biogenesis Section, headed by Harris Bernstein, studies protein secretion in both pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria. The Bernstein group continues to pursue a long-term interest in the universal Sec pathway and has recently been focusing on the mechanism by which the expression of SecA, a key component of the Sec pathway, is controlled at the translational level. It has also been studying the secretion of virulence factors by the widespread but poorly understood autotransporter ("type V") pathway that is found in pathogenic gram-negative bacteria.