- Undergraduate Education
- B.Sc. Cornell University (1985)
- Graduate Education
- M.S. Albany Medical College (1991)
- Ph.D. Albany Medical College (1994)
- Postdoc. Wadsworth Center, Albany (1995-1997)
- Harvard Medical School, Boston (1997-2002)
- Joined Texas A&M in 2002
Transcriptional Regulation/Chromatin Structure
How cells regulate gene expression is fundamental to most aspects of biology. My laboratory is interested in the regulation of gene expression at active and inactive regions of the yeast genome. We identify proteins that regulate transcription using classic and modern genetic techniques. Then, we investigate how these factors influence transcription and chromatin structure using a combination of genetic, molecular, and biochemical methods.
Our current research addresses complex questions regarding the role of histone methylation in the regulation of transcription of the HIS3 gene. In budding yeast, there is a single lysine methyltransferase, Set1, that catalyzes mono-, di- and tri-methylation of the fourth residue, lysine 4, of histone H3. Set1 is a great model to study because it generates three chromatin marks and each mark is not equivalent. We exploit novel genetic variants of the conserved Set1 protein that differentially affect methylation of lysine 4 (K4) of histone H3 (e.g. abolish H3K4 tri-methylation while keeping H3K4 mono-methylation intact). Studies using these Set1 mutants provide insights into the roles of different H3K4 methyl marks in transcription by Pol II. We are also investigating the role of antisense transcription in regulation of the HIS3 gene. This research is expected to define new paradigms in gene regulation.
Our research on silent chromatin focuses on Pol II-transcribed genes located in the ribosomal DNA (rDNA) locus. We use Pol II-transcribed genes to characterize mechanisms that regulate silent chromatin. Silent chromatin not only represses Pol II transcription but also genetic recombination. Alterations in rDNA recombination reduce the stability of the rDNA locus and the yeast genome, leading to premature aging and cell death.
The goal of my lab is to learn about mechanisms that regulate Pol II transcription and chromatin structure. We use several methods, such as growth assays, RNA analysis, chromatin immunoprecipitation, mutagenesis and genetic screens, to characterize Pol II transcription and chromatin function. Our findings will increase our understanding of how chromatin dynamics influence gene expression and genome integrity. Many of the factors we study have homologues in human cells indicating that our discoveries may provide insights into mechanisms that regulate gene expression in higher eukaryotes.
Belfort, M. Expectant Management is appropriate in some sIUGR monochorionic twins. BJOG. 2020; :.
King, BC, Hagan, J, Corroenne, R, Shamshirsaz, AA, Espinoza, J, Nassr, AA et al.. An economic analysis of prenatal fetoscopic versus open neural tube defect repair. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2020; :.
Corroenne, R, Zhu, KH, Johnson, E, Johnson, R, Whitehead, WE, Espinoza, J et al.. Impact of the size of the lesion in prenatal neural tube defect repair on imaging, neurosurgical and motor outcomes: a retrospective cohort study. BJOG. 2020; :.
Dong, X, Qu, G, Piazza, CL, Belfort, M. Group II intron as cold sensor for self-preservation and bacterial conjugation. Nucleic Acids Res. 2020; :.
Salmanian, B, Fox, KA, Arian, SE, Erfani, H, Clark, SL, Aagaard, KM et al.. In vitro fertilization as an independent risk factor for placenta accreta spectrum: In vitro fertilization, an independent risk factor for placenta accreta. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 2020; :.
Turrentine, M, Ramirez, M, Monga, M, Gandhi, M, Swaim, L, Tyer-Viola, L et al.. Rapid Deployment of a Drive-Through Prenatal Care Model in Response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic. Obstet Gynecol. 2020; :.
Macedo, J, Silva, E, Nogueira, L, Coelho, R, da Silva, J, Dos Santos, A et al.. Genomic profiling reveals the pivotal role of hrHPV driving copy number and gene expression alterations, including mRNA downregulation of TP53 and RB1 in penile cancer. Mol. Carcinog. 2020;59 (6):604-617.
Antony, KM, Kazembe, PN, Pace, RM, Levison, J, Phiri, H, Chiudzu, G et al.. Population-Based Estimation of the Preterm Birth Rate in Lilongwe, Malawi: Making Every Birth Count. AJP Rep. 2020;10 (1):e78-e86.
Monteiro, S, Nassr, AA, Yun, PS, Voigt, R, Koh, CJ, Roth, DR et al.. Neurodevelopmental Outcome in Infants with Lower Urinary Tract Obstruction Based on Different Degrees of Severity. Fetal. Diagn. Ther. 2020; :1-10.
Waldern, J, Schiraldi, NJ, Belfort, M, Novikova, O. Bacterial group II intron genomic neighborhoods reflect survival strategies: hiding and hijacking. Mol. Biol. Evol. 2020; :.