Dixie Mager

Medical Genetics


  • Gene regulation and epigenetics
  • Transposable elements, Bioinformatics

Our laboratory uses molecular and cellular biology approaches, coupled with bioinformatics, to address questions in gene regulation, genomic stability and malignancy. The primary focus of our laboratory is to determine how transposable elements influence gene regulation and the epigenetic and genetic stability in normal and cancer cells.
Nearly half of the human genome is composed of sequences related to transposable elements (TEs). These elements, which include endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), have colonized our genome during evolution and some are still mobile – causing cancer in mice and genetic disease in humans and animals. The epigenetic state of TEs is often altered in cancer, a reflection of global epigenetic abnormalities associated with malignancy. Ongoing or future projects include: i) Characterizing genes that use TE-derived regulatory signals; ii) Elucidating the complex relationship between epigenetic silencing of TEs and the resultant effects on gene expression; iii) Using patterns of genomic TE distributions to uncover novel aspects of gene regulation; iv) Determining the potential pathogenic role of epigenetic activation of ERVs and other TEs in human lymphomas and other cancers; and v) Investigating the activity of ERVs in induced pluripotent stem (ips) cells and potential ramifications of such activity for cell-based therapies.