Nora I. Engel, PhD

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Associate Professor, Department of Cancer and Cellular Biology

Associate Professor, Medical Genetics and Molecular Biochemistry
Associate Professor, Fels Cancer Institute for Personalized Medicine, Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University

Research Program

Educational Background

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania, 1999-2005
  • PhD in Molecular Biology, University of Buenos Aires, 1997
  • University degree, University of Buenos Aires, School of Biochemistry, 1986

Research Interests

My research concentrates on understanding the interactions, mechanisms and epigenetic modifications of DNA sequences that regulate transcription. As a model, we focus on a multigene region that exhibits genomic imprinting. “Imprinted” genes are consistently expressed from only one of the two parental copies. It is believed that imprinted genes are marked with a memory of their parental origin, and that the marks are reversible chemical or structural modifications of the DNA occurring during development of each germline. This type of modification is termed “epigenetic” and allows the parental alleles to be distinguished. The fact that imprinted genes are only active from one allele means that any perturbation in their expression is dominant. In fact, proper regulation of imprinted genes is crucial, and alteration of their status in humans can lead to both genetic diseases and cancer.

The Cdkn1c domain is a group of imprinted genes including at least eight maternally expressed genes and one paternally expressed long non-coding RNA with silencing activity. Alterations of imprinting in this domain have been found in Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, an overgrowth disorder with predisposition to cancer. Also, mutations in Cdkn1c, a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, have been documented in human cancers.

The research in my lab explores the molecular mechanisms that regulate transcriptional features of  imprinted regions, including epigenetic features and three-dimensional conformations, by an interdisciplinary approach combining in silico, in vitro and in vivo technologies to understand the interactions of regulatory DNA sequences.  

Additional Publications

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