Dr Erik Bateman obtained his PhD in Biochemistry and Physiology from the University of Reading, United Kingdom. He did postdoctoral studies with Dr. M.R. Paule at Colorado State University, and joined the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in 1988.
The control of gene expression is central to the growth and development of all living organisms. Research in my lab is directed at understanding the mechanisms which are used by RNA polymerase during RNA synthesis, and the ways RNA synthesis can be regulated. Studies are focused on transcription of protein coding genes in the model eukaryote, Acanthamoeba castellanii. Previous experiments with RNA polymerase I showed that transcription initiation is dependant on protein-protein interactions between transcription factors and RNA polymerase. The current goal is to define promoters and proteins that are involved in RNA polymerase II transcription and its regulation.
Eukaryotic promoters are often modular, that is, they contain distinct functional elements which play separate roles in the efficiency and accuracy of transcription initiation. The arrangement of such elements varies among different genes, as does the efficiency of expression under their control. In order to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that underlie the role of promoter elements, we are characterizing the signals within several genes that are expressed at a wide range of levels.
It is well known that promoter elements serve as DNA binding sites for particular cellular proteins. For example the TATAAA region found in many genes serves to bind a transcription factor called TFIID. This interaction, and subsequent events during initiation can be positively or negatively regulated by other proteins that bind to the upstream elements. The basis for this effect is not clear, nor is the manner by which they influence RNA polymerase-the enzyme that actually makes RNA. However, regulation is essential in all organisms, since over- or under-expression of particular gene products can have disastrous consequences for a cell or organism.
RNA polymerase itself is complex, containing many protein subunits, yet it is largely inactive in the absence of the DNA-binding proteins. Unravelling the ways RNA polymerase is controlled is the major goal of this lab, and a major problem in molecular biology. We have developed an in vitro transcription system from Acanthamoeba and are currently purifying transcription factors and RNA polymerase II in order to reconstruct an active complex using purified components.
Bateman, E. Autoregulation of eukaryotic transcription factors. Prog. Nucleic Acid Res. Mol. Biol. 1998;60:133-168.
Huang, W., Bateman, E. Transcription of the Acanthamoeba TATA-binding protein gene. A single transcription factor acts both as an activator and a repressor. J. Biol. Chem. 1997 Feb 7;272(6):3852-3859.
Huang, W., Wong, J.M., Bateman, E. TATA elements direct bi-directional transcription by RNA polymerases II and III. Nucleic Acids Res. 1996 Mar 15;24(6):1158-1163.
* indicates equal contribution
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