Professor Scott Ulrich (chemistry) won a grant from the Research Corporation in the amount of $38,140 for a project titled "Generation of Allele-Specific Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors."
Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are a family of enzymes that help control which genes are turned on or off in cells. Selective gene activation causes cells to specialize into cell types with specific functions, such as nerve cells, muscle cells, etc; and also occurs when normal cells turn into
cancer cells. Chemical inhibitors of HDACs interfere with cellular specialization, as evidenced by their ability to interfere with normal development, and revert cancer cells to a healthy, normal state.
This project will modify known HDAC inhibitors through chemical synthesis and also modify individual HDAC family members through protein engineering to create HDAC inhibitors that are specific for one (the engineered) HDAC family member. This system will provide a method to inhibit any HDAC and be an invaluable tool for researchers in development and cancer biology to determine the precise role of each HDAC family member.
The grant will provide funds for equipment and chemicals as well as summer research stipends for two IC students for two years.
Contributed by Maria Russell