John M. Denu
Credentials: Mechanisms of chromatin dynamics, epigenetic, metabolism and signaling
Position title: Professor (also Epigenetics Theme Leader, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery)
Phone: (608) 316-4341
2178 Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
330 N. Orchard St. Madison, WI 53715
• B.S. 1988, University of Wisconsin-Madison
• Ph.D. 1993, Texas A & M University (Paul F. Fitzpatrick)
• Postdoctoral 1993-96, University of Michigan Medical School (Jack E. Dixon)
Honors & Awards
• Robert A. Welch Research Fellow (1992-93)
• National Research Service Award (1993-96)
• Young Investigator Award (American Cancer Association 1997-2000)
• Research Scholar Award (American Cancer Association 2001-2004)
• Romnes Fellow, University of Wisconsin (2006)
• Epigenetics Theme Director, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (2009)
• Elected Fellow of the AAAS, 2011
• NIH Merit Award,2013
• Kellett Mid-Career Faculty Award (2016)
There are currently three major areas of research in the group:
1.) Writing, reading and editing a molecular language/code
What are the basic biochemical principles that govern epigenetic information written onto histones? Currently, we are addressing the fundamental hypothesis that the combinatorial nature of nucleosomal PTM (post-translational modification) states are specifically recognized and acted upon by enzyme complexes containing multivalent readers. These enzyme-catalyzed histone modifications (e.g. (de)acetylation, (de)phosphorylation, and (de)methylation) result in a unique set of chemical ‘marks’ that regulate chromatin function through largely unknown mechanisms. We and others have proposed that combinatorial posttranslational modifications (PTMs) give rise to a histone ‘code’ or ‘language’, which is interpreted by enzyme complexes to mediate transcriptional responses (e.g., activation or repression). We employ numerous biochemical approaches to investigate the existence of a functional histone code involving enzyme-catalyzed PTMs.
2.) Linking metabolism with the epigenome
Chromatin remodeling enzymes rely on co-enzymes derived from metabolic pathways, suggesting coordination between nuclear events and metabolic networks. Investigations are underway to understand the link between metabolism and the regulation of epigenetic mechanisms. We are testing the hypothesis that certain chromatin modifying complexes have evolved to exquisitely ‘sense’ metabolite levels and respond accordingly, modifying specific chromatin loci for altered gene expression.
3.) Sirtuins and reversible protein acetylation
Accumulating evidence suggests that reversible protein-lysine is a major regulatory mechanism that controls non-histone protein function. With the recent mass-spectral cataloging of ~1000 acetylation sites on protein lysine residues comes the exciting challenge of assigning functional roles to specific acetylation sites, identifying the acetyltransferases and deacetylases that regulate acetylation levels, and elucidating the physiological cause and effect of specific acetylation. In only a few cases have the acetyltransferases and deacetylases been identified. Also, there is a scarcity of molecular understanding of the functional consequences of reversible protein acetylation. Sirtuins are a conserved family of NAD+-dependent protein deacetylases that have emerged as important players in modulating protein acetylation. Compelling genetic evidence implicates sirtuins in genome maintenance, metabolism, cell survival, and lifespan. The NAD+-dependence suggests that specific protein deacetylation is inextricably linked to metabolism. We are examining the central hypothesis that reversible protein acetylation is a major regulatory mechanism for controlling diverse metabolic processes, and that at the molecular level, site-specific acetylation alters the intrinsic activity of targeted proteins.
Perform a customized PubMed literature search for John M. Denu
- Latorre-Muro, P., J. Baeza, R. Hurtado-Guerrero, T. Hicks, I. Delso, C. Hernández-Ruiz, A. Velazquez-Campoy, A.J. Lawton, J. Angulo, J.M. Denu, and J.A. Carrodeguas. (2020). Self-acetylation at the active site of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PCK1) controls enzyme activity. The Journal of biological chemistry, .
- Thomas, S.P., S.A. Haws, L.E. Borth, and J.M. Denu. (2020). A practical guide for analysis of histone post-translational modifications by mass spectrometry: Best practices and pitfalls. Methods (San Diego, Calif.), 184: 53-60.
- Liu, W.H., J. Zheng, J.L. Feldman, M.A. Klein, V.I. Kuznetsov, C.L. Peterson, P.R. Griffin, and J.M. Denu. (2020). Multivalent interactions drive nucleosome binding and efficient chromatin deacetylation by SIRT6. Nature communications, 11: 5244.
- Haws, S.A., C.M. Leech, and J.M. Denu. (2020). Metabolism and the Epigenome: A Dynamic Relationship. Trends in biochemical sciences, 45: 731-747.
- Albaugh, B.N., and J.M. Denu. (2020). Catalysis by protein acetyltransferase Gcn5. Biochimica et biophysica acta. Gene regulatory mechanisms, 194627.
- Klein, M.A., and J.M. Denu. (2020). Biological and catalytic functions of sirtuin 6 as targets for small-molecule modulators. The Journal of biological chemistry, 295: 11021-11041.
- Baeza, J., A.J. Lawton, J. Fan, M.J. Smallegan, I. Lienert, T. Gandhi, O.M. Bernhardt, L. Reiter, and J.M. Denu. (2020). Revealing Dynamic Protein Acetylation across Subcellular Compartments. Journal of proteome research, 19: 2404-2418.
- Haws, S.A., D. Yu, C. Ye, C.K. Wille, L.C. Nguyen, K.A. Krautkramer, J.L. Tomasiewicz, S.E. Yang, B.R. Miller, W.H. Liu, K. Igarashi, R. Sridharan, B.P. Tu, V.L. Cryns, D.W. Lamming, and J.M. Denu. (2020). Methyl-Metabolite Depletion Elicits Adaptive Responses to Support Heterochromatin Stability and Epigenetic Persistence. Molecular cell, 78: 210-223.e8.
- Klein, M.A., C. Liu, V.I. Kuznetsov, J.B. Feltenberger, W. Tang, and J.M. Denu. (2020). Mechanism of activation for the sirtuin 6 protein deacylase. The Journal of biological chemistry, 295: 1385-1399.
- Miller, K.N., J.P. Clark, S.A. Martin, P.R. Howell, M.S. Burhans, S.A. Haws, N.B. Johnson, T.W. Rhoads, D.M. Pavelec, K.W. Eliceiri, A.S. Roopra, J.M. Ntambi, J.M. Denu, B.W. Parks, and R.M. Anderson. (2019). PGC-1a integrates a metabolism and growth network linked to caloric restriction. Aging cell, 18: e12999.