Jim Kennison, who heads the Section on Drosophila Gene Regulation, studies how genes control cell fates during development. The homeotic genes in Drosophila specify cell identities at both the embryonic and adult stages. They encode homeodomain-containing transcription factors that control cell fates by regulating the transcription of downstream target genes. The homeotic genes are expressed in precise spatial patterns that are crucial for the proper determination of cell fate. Both loss of expression and ectopic expression in the wrong tissues lead to changes in cell fate. These changes provide powerful assays for identifying the trans-acting factors that regulate the homeotic genes and the cis-acting sequences through which they act. Both the homeotic genes and the trans-acting factors that regulate them are conserved between Drosophila and human. In addition to many conserved developmental genes, at least half of the disease- and cancer-causing genes in man are conserved in Drosophila, making Drosophila a particularly important model system for the study of human development and disease.
- Chang, Y.-L., King, B., Lin, S.-C., Kennison, J.A., and Huang, D.-H. (2007) A double bromodomain protein, FSH-S, activates the homeotic gene Ultrabithorax through a critical promoter-proximal region. Molec. Cell. Biol. 27: 5486-5498. PMID: 17526731
- Hallson G., Syrzycka M., Beck S.A., Kennison J.A., Dorsett D., Page S.L., Hunter S.M., Keall R., Warren W.D., Brock H.W., Sinclair D.A.R., and Honda B.M. (2008) The Drosophila cohesin subunit Rad21 is a trithorax group (trxG) protein. Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci. USA 105: 12405-12410. PMID: 18713858
- Vázquez M., Cooper M.T., Zurita M., and Kennison J.A. (2008) γTub23C interacts genetically with Brahma chromatin-remodeling complexes in Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics 180: 835-843. PMID: 18780727
- Kassis, J.A. and Kennison, J.A. (2010) Recruitment of Polycomb complexes: a role for SCM. Molec.Cell.Biol. 30: 2581-2583. PMID: 20351178
- Cooper, M.T., Conant, A. W., and Kennison, J.A. (2010) Molecular genetic analysis of Chd3 and polytene chromosome region 76B-D in Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics 185: 811-822. PMID: 20439780
- Noyes, A., Stefaniuk, C., Cheng, Y., Kennison, J.A., and Kassis, J.A. (2011) Modulation of the Activity of a Polycomb-Group Response Element in Drosophila by a Mutation in the Transcriptional Activator Woc. G3 1: 471-478
- Cooper, M.T. and Kennison, J.A. (2011) Molecular Genetic Analyses of Polytene Chromosome Region 72A-D in Drosophila melanogaster Reveal a Gene Desert in 72D. PLoS ONE 6: e23509. PMID: 21853143 Pubmed Central