Yen, Linda (2013 - 2016)

Linda is in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology.  She joined the training program in 2013.  Her research mentor is Dr. Steven Jacobsen.  She received a B.S. degree in 2009 from UC Berkeley.

Mentor: Dr. Steven Jacobsen

Research project:

Mechanisms of gene silencing are required to control numerous biological processes. In the plant model organism Arabidopsis thaliana, one such mechanism is DNA cytosine methylation. DNA methylation can occur at transposons and other repetitive elements and mediates gene silencing, preventing the genome from being corrupted by mobile DNA elements. The least accessible heterochromatin is maintained by histone 3 lysine 9 dimethylation (H3K9me2).

Recently, our lab identified two novel effectors of gene silencing in Arabidopsis thaliana. AtMORC1 and AtMORC6 are members of the conserved Microrchidia (MORC) adenosine triphosphatase family. Plants harboring a mutation in either atmorc1 or atmorc6 exhibit decondensed heterochromatin and gene reactivation, yet retain wildtype levels of DNA methylation and H3K9me2. How they are able to influence chromatin decompaction without disrupting the typical hallmarks of heterochromatin is still unknown. We will aim to answer this question using a combination of cell biology, biochemistry and genetic techniques. Elucidating the function of AtMORCs should lend insight into this family’s mechanism of action in a wide variety of eukaryotes.