Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Penn State Science
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Hengye Chen

Hengye Chen

Main Content

  • BMMB Graduate Student (Bai)
107 Althouse Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 863-4824

Research Interests

Nucleosome depletion and gene regulation


Lu Bai


Research Summary

Chromatin is densely packed with nucleosomes, which present a barrier for the binding of most transcription factors (TFs). However, a special group of TFs can invade compact chromosome and deplete nucleosomes near their binding sites. These TFs, referred to as nucleosome-depleting factors (NDFs), direct the binding of other TFs and allow them to activate transcription. By making the first interaction with chromosomes in the transcription pathway, NDFs play an essential role in gene regulation. Our lab has recently conducted a genome-wide screening of nucleosome depletion activity among all the known TFs in yeast, and identified a small subset as NDFs. However, the underlying mechanism of how these NDFs deplete nucleosome is still not clear. Based on published work and our own preliminary data, we hypothesized that at least some NDFs work with nucleosome remodeling factors to open chromosome.  To test this hypothesis, we will construct a sequence library containing all the known NDF binding sites and integrate them into various strains where different remodeling factors are deleted. We will then use high-throughput method to measure nucleosome positioning over these binding sites in these strains. If a remodeling factor is important for nucleosome depletion, we expect to see a difference in the nucleosome positioning before and after the deletion of this factor. This study will generate, for the first time, a comprehensive view of the coordination between NDFs and remodeling enzymes, and therefore shed light on the mechanism of nucleosome invasion and depletion.

Chen Research Image

The region we focus on at HO promoter has 3 well-positioned nucleosomes, and factor binding sites are added to nucleosome 4-occupied region.

Honors and Awards

  • University Graduate Fellowship (2016-2017)
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