- Regulating levels of gene expression is central to all of biology. A primary point for controlling gene expression is during mRNA transcription, which occurs as the enzyme RNA polymerase II (Pol II) synthesizes an RNA copy of the DNA in protein encoding genes. The ultimate goal of my research is to arrive at a detailed understanding of the Pol II transcription reaction and how it is regulated. We use several different approaches and systems to achieve this goal. For example, we are interested in understanding and identifying non-coding RNA (ncRNA) regulators of Pol II transcription. We are also interested in how specific transcriptional activator proteins contribute to regulating transcription in different cancer cell types. We are studying how the Pol II transcription program changes in response to stress. In addition, we are using single molecule assays to understand the mechanisms, kinetics, and physical parameters that govern transcription factor complexes.