Led by Haojie Huang, Ph.D., the Cancer Epigenetics and Functional Genomics Laboratory at Mayo Clinic studies the etiology of cancer to identify novel targets for improved diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for people with cancer.

Dr. Huang's lab focuses on three areas of research:

  • Alterations in cancer cells. The lab defines both genetic changes and changes that are caused by gene expression rather than genes themselves (epigenetic changes) in cancer cells. The lab uses cell cultures and cells from patient specimens to define these changes.
  • Cell changes and development of cancer. Dr. Huang's team investigates how alterations that are associated with cancer affect the state of chromosomal proteins, RNA, DNA (chromatins) and gene transcription. This research improves understanding of how the alterations subsequently influence cancer initiation, progression and resistance to therapy.
  • Targeted therapeutics. The lab uses its findings to develop new cancer treatment drugs.

Specifically, Dr. Huang's research team focuses on alterations and functions of cancer-relevant transcription factors; writers, readers and erasers of chromatin modifications; long noncoding RNAs and enhancer RNAs; and tumor suppressors. The lab is particularly interested in PTEN and SPOP, tumor suppressors that are most frequently mutated in prostate cancer.

To fulfill the lab's research goals, Dr. Huang's team uses advanced techniques that include but are not limited to:

  • Gene knockout via clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated 9 (CRISPR/Cas9)
  • Gene knockout and knockin in mouse embryo stem cells
  • Tumor imaging in live animals
  • Lentivirus-mediated gene silencing
  • Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)
  • ChIP-seq
  • RNA immunoprecipitation (RIP)-seq
  • Strand-specific RNA-seq
  • Polysome and ribosome profiling
  • Protein tandem affinity purification followed by mass spectrometry (TAP-MS)
  • Embryonic and cancer stem cell manipulation
  • Organoid culture derived from patients with cancer
  • Generation and maintenance of patient-derived xenografts

About Dr. Huang

Dr. Huang is a scientist with numerous published articles related to his research in the Cancer Epigenetics and Functional Genomics Lab at Mayo Clinic, including papers on androgen synthesis and tumor microenvironment; prostate cancer tumorigenesis, progression and metastasis; castration-resistant prostate cancer; sequencing methods to identify genetic alterations in prostate cancer; PTEN, FOXO1 and SPOP in prostate cancer; and other cancer epigenetics and genomics research. He also serves as a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and urology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota.