Viviana Risca

Assistant Professor; Biochemistry, Biophysics, Chemical Biology, and Structural Biology

B.S., Stanford University

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

In order to fit into our cells, the human genome is packaged by proteins that protect it from breaks and cancer-causing mutations. These proteins also help cells maintain cell identity by suppressing expression of genes that belong to other cell types. The Risca lab is studying one such protein, called macroH2A, which has been shown to suppress several types of cancer. I recently developed a cutting-edge method for mapping the folding of DNA within cells. We are using this method in combination with biochemical studies of DNA wrapped around purified proteins to study the structural mechanisms that macroH2A uses to regulate gene expression. MacroH2A also interacts with PARP1, a major cancer drug target involved in DNA repair and regulation of transcription, and we hope that these insights will inform future innovations in targeted therapy.