Professor and HHMI Investigator
Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University,1992
Growth control in mammalian cells; post-transcriptional gene silencing
The Hannon lab focuses on three major areas of biology. For the past decade, we have sought to understand the biological roles of small RNAs and the underlying mechanisms by which they operate. We have identified and characterized many of the major biogenesis and effector complexes for small interfering RNAs and microRNAs, including Dicer, RISC, and elements of the Microprocessor. Over the past several years, we have focused on roles of small RNAs in germ cells, which tend to have the most elaborate set of small RNA pathways of any cell type. This led to the discovery of an essential role for pseudogenes in producing small RNAs that are critical for proper oocyte development and to the discovery of an elegant small RNA-based immune system that guards the genome against transposable elements. The latter system incorporates another small RNA class, piRNAs, into an adaptive cycle that both responds to transposon challenge and can communicate epigenetic information about that challenge from parent to progeny. The Hannon lab also strives to understand the biology of cancer cells, with a focus on breast and pancreatic cancer. Here, we are interested in the roles of small RNAs as oncogenes and tumor suppressors and in exploiting the RNAi libraries that we have developed to identify new therapeutic targets for specific disease subtypes. Finally, we are taking genetic approaches to understand the biology of resistance to currently used targeted therapies. The third component of the laboratory exploits the power of next generation sequencing to understand the biology of the mammalian genome. Our efforts range from the identification of new classes of small RNAs to understanding human evolution and diversity. Most recently, we have placed a major emphasis on the evolution of the epigenome and its role in driving cell fate specification.
Cheloufi, S., Dos Santos, C.O., Chong, M.M., and Hannon, G.J. 2010. A dicer-independent miRNA biogenesis pathway that requires Ago catalysis. Nature 465: 584–589.
Czech, B., Zhou, R., Erlich, Y., Brennecke, J., Binari, R., Villalta, C., Gordon, A., Perrimon, N., and Hannon, G.J. 2009. Hierarchical rules for Argonaute loading in Drosophila. Mol. Cell 36: 445–456.
Malone, C.D., Brennecke, J., Dus, M., Stark, A., McCombie, W.R., Sachidanandam, R., and Hannon, G.J. 2009. Specialized piRNA pathways act in germline and somatic tissues of the Drosophila ovary. Cell 137: 522–535.
Brennecke, J., Aravin, A.A., Stark, A., Dus, M., Kellis, M., Sachidanandam, R., and Hannon, G.J. 2007. Discrete small RNA-generating loci as master regulators of transposon activity in Drosophila. Cell 128: 1089–1103.