Research Interests

Dr. Selker is interested in how eukaryotic genomes are structured, how they function, and how they change. His research has primarily exploited the model organism Neurospora crassa. As a graduate student, he demonstrated that 5S rRNA genes of Neurospora are dispersed and highly divergent, in contrast to the case in other characterized organisms. This led him to uncover "non-symmetric" methylation in eukaryotes, "maintenance methylation" involving such sites, and cis-acting signals for de novo methylation. Selker's early work on DNA methylation led him to discover and characterize the first known homology-dependent genome defense system, RIP (repeat-induced point mutation), which recognizes and inactivates duplicate sequences prior to meiosis. His team showed that Neurospora centromeres and sub-telomeric regions consist largely of "RIPed DNA" and that the associated DNA methylation inhibits transcription at the level of elongation. Selker continues to use genetic and biochemical approaches to elucidate gene silencing mechanisms. He has concentrated principally on those involving DNA methylation, and has identified a variety of factors involved in its control, including histone and DNA methyltransferases, other histone modification enzymes, and critical associated proteins. Selker's current interests also focus on DNA-independent epigenetic mechanisms, such as methylation of histone H3K27.

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Primary Section

Section 26: Genetics