Education & Certifications

  • Bachelor of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Electrical Engineering (2011)
  • Master of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Bioengineering (2011)
  • Bachelor of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Bioengineering (2011)

All Publications

  • Constitutive centromere-associated network contacts confer differential stability on CENP-A nucleosomes in vitro and in the cell MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF THE CELL Cao, S., Zhou, K., Zhang, Z., Luger, K., Straight, A. F. 2018; 29 (6): 751–62


    Eukaryotic centromeres are defined by the presence of nucleosomes containing the histone H3 variant, centromere protein A (CENP-A). Once incorporated at centromeres, CENP-A nucleosomes are remarkably stable, exhibiting no detectable loss or exchange over many cell cycles. It is currently unclear whether this stability is an intrinsic property of CENP-A containing chromatin or whether it arises from proteins that specifically associate with CENP-A chromatin. Two proteins, CENP-C and CENP-N, are known to bind CENP-A human nucleosomes directly. Here we test the hypothesis that CENP-C or CENP-N stabilize CENP-A nucleosomes in vitro and in living cells. We show that CENP-N stabilizes CENP-A nucleosomes alone and additively with CENP-C in vitro. However, removal of CENP-C and CENP-N from cells, or mutating CENP-A so that it no longer interacts with CENP-C or CENP-N, had no effect on centromeric CENP-A stability in vivo. Thus, the stability of CENP-A nucleosomes in chromatin does not arise solely from its interactions with CENP-C or CENP-N.

    View details for DOI 10.1091/mbc.E17-10-0596

    View details for Web of Science ID 000428162500017

    View details for PubMedID 29343552

  • Repressor transcription factor 7-like 1 promotes adipogenic competency in precursor cells PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Cristancho, A. G., Schupp, M., Lefterova, M. I., Cao, S., Cohen, D. M., Chen, C. S., Steger, D. J., Lazar, M. A. 2011; 108 (39): 16271-16276


    The identification of factors that define adipocyte precursor potential has important implications for obesity. Preadipocytes are fibroblastoid cells committed to becoming round lipid-laden adipocytes. In vitro, this differentiation process is facilitated by confluency, followed by adipogenic stimuli. During adipogenesis, a large number of cytostructural genes are repressed before adipocyte gene induction. Here we report that the transcriptional repressor transcription factor 7-like 1 (TCF7L1) binds and directly regulates the expression of cell structure genes. Depletion of TCF7L1 inhibits differentiation, because TCF7L1 indirectly induces the adipogenic transcription factor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ in a manner that can be replaced by inhibition of myosin II activity. TCF7L1 is induced by cell contact in adipogenic cell lines, and ectopic expression of TCF7L1 alleviates the confluency requirement for adipocytic differentiation of precursor cells. In contrast, TCF7L1 is not induced during confluency of non-adipogenic fibroblasts, and, remarkably, forced expression of TCF7L1 is sufficient to commit non-adipogenic fibroblasts to an adipogenic fate. These results establish TCF7L1 as a transcriptional hub coordinating cell-cell contact with the transcriptional repression required for adipogenic competency.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1109409108

    View details for Web of Science ID 000295255300033

    View details for PubMedID 21914845

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3182685