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Mary Bryk

Bryk, Mary
Mary Bryk
Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
BioBio / Room 334A
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.

Recent Publications

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  1. Walshe, EA, Winston, FK, Betancourt, LM, Khurana, A, Arena, K, Romer, D et al.. Working Memory Development and Motor Vehicle Crashes in Young Drivers. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2 (9):e1911421.
    doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.11421. PubMed PMID:31517969. .

  2. Gopalakrishnan, R, Winston, F. Whole-Genome Sequencing of Yeast Cells. Curr Protoc Mol Biol. 2019;128 (1):e103.
    doi: 10.1002/cpmb.103. PubMed PMID:31503417. PubMed Central PMC6741438.

  3. Shetty, A, Reim, NI, Winston, F. Auxin-Inducible Degron System for Depletion of Proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Curr Protoc Mol Biol. 2019;128 (1):e104.
    doi: 10.1002/cpmb.104. PubMed PMID:31503416. PubMed Central PMC6741457.

  4. Shamshirsaz, AA, Lee, TC, Hair, AB, Erfani, H, Espinoza, J, Shamshirsaz, AA et al.. Early delivery in fetal gastroschisis: a randomized controlled trial of elective 34-week delivery vs routine obstetrical care. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2019; :.
    doi: 10.1002/uog.21871. PubMed PMID:31503365. .

  5. Aris, IM, Rifas-Shiman, SL, Li, LJ, Belfort, MB, Hivert, MF, Oken, E et al.. Early Life Predictors of Systolic Blood Pressure Trajectories from Infancy to Adolescence: Findings from Project Viva. Am. J. Epidemiol. 2019; :.
    doi: 10.1093/aje/kwz181. PubMed PMID:31497850. .

  6. Parker, MG, Greenberg, LT, Edwards, EM, Ehret, D, Belfort, MB, Horbar, JD et al.. National Trends in the Provision of Human Milk at Hospital Discharge Among Very Low-Birth-Weight Infants. JAMA Pediatr. 2019; :.
    doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.2645. PubMed PMID:31479097. .

  7. Antony, KM, Kazembe, PN, Pace, RM, Levison, J, Mlotha-Namarika, J, Phiri, H et al.. Population-Based Estimation of Dental Caries and Periodontal Disease Rates of Gravid and Recently Postpartum Women in Lilongwe, Malawi. AJP Rep. 2019;9 (3):e268-e274.
    doi: 10.1055/s-0039-1695003. PubMed PMID:31435488. PubMed Central PMC6702028.

  8. Erfani, H, Fox, KA, Belfort, MA, Shamshirsaz, AA. Preventing severe hypocalcemia during surgery for placenta accreta spectrum. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2019; :.
    doi: 10.1111/aogs.13704. PubMed PMID:31407312. .

  9. Drouin, KH, Riley, JF, Benjamin, C, Gregory, KE, Sen, S, Belfort, MB et al.. Donor Milk Policies for Level 1 Newborn Care: A Descriptive Analysis. Breastfeed Med. 2019; :.
    doi: 10.1089/bfm.2019.0094. PubMed PMID:31393161. .

  10. Gimenez, A, Kopkin, R, Chang, DK, Belfort, M, Reece, EM. Advances in Fetal Surgery: Current and Future Relevance in Plastic Surgery. Semin Plast Surg. 2019;33 (3):204-212.
    doi: 10.1055/s-0039-1693431. PubMed PMID:31384237. PubMed Central PMC6680079.

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