Xiaodong Cheng

Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States

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Publications (151)1230.69 Total impact

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    Preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Genes & Development
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    ABSTRACT: Lin28, a well-known RNA-binding protein, regulates diverse cellular properties. All physiological functions of Lin28A characterized so far have been attributed to its repression of let-7 miRNA biogenesis or modulation of mRNA translational efficiency. Here we show that Lin28A directly binds to a consensus DNA sequence in vitro and in mouse embryonic stem cells in vivo. ChIP-seq and RNA-seq reveal enrichment of Lin28A binding around transcription start sites and a positive correlation between its genomic occupancy and expression of many associated genes. Mechanistically, Lin28A recruits 5-methylcytosine-dioxygenase Tet1 to genomic binding sites to orchestrate 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine dynamics. Either Lin28A or Tet1 knockdown leads to dysregulated DNA methylation and expression of common target genes. These results reveal a surprising role for Lin28A in transcriptional regulation via epigenetic DNA modifications and have implications for understanding mechanisms underlying versatile functions of Lin28A in mammalian systems.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Molecular cell
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    ABSTRACT: The KDM5/JARID1 family of Fe(II)- and α-ketoglutarate-dependent demethylases remove methyl groups from tri- and di-methylated lysine 4 of histone H3. Accumulating evidence from primary tumors and model systems support a role for KDM5A (JARID1A/RBP2) and KDM5B (JARID1B/PLU1) as oncogenic drivers. The KDM5 family is unique among the Jumonji domain-containing histone demethylases in that there is an atypical insertion of a DNA-binding ARID domain and a histone-binding PHD domain into the Jumonji domain, which separates the catalytic domain into two fragments (JmjN and JmjC). Here we demonstrate that internal deletion of the ARID and PHD1 domains has a negligible effect on in vitro enzymatic kinetics of the KDM5 family of enzymes. We present a crystal structure of the linked JmjN-JmjC domain from KDM5A, which reveals that the linked domain fully reconstitutes the cofactor (metal ion and α-ketoglutarate) binding characteristics of other structurally-characterized Jumonji domain demethylases. Docking studies with GSK-J1, a selective inhibitor of the KDM6/KDM5 sub-families, identify critical residues for binding of the inhibitor to the reconstituted KDM5 Jumonji domain. Further, we found that GSK-J1 inhibited the demethylase activity of KDM5C with 8.5-fold increased potency compared to that of KDM5B at 1 mM α-ketoglutarate. In contrast, JIB-04 (a pan-inhibitor of the Jumonji demethylase superfamily) had the opposite effect and was approximately 8-fold more potent against KDM5B than KDM5C. Interestingly, the relative selectivity of JIB-04 towards KDM5B over KDM5C in vitro translates to a ~10-50-fold greater growth inhibitory activity against breast cancer cell lines. These data define the minimal requirements for enzymatic activity of the KDM5 family to be the linked JmjN-JmjC domain coupled with the immediate C- terminal helical Zn-binding domain and provide structural characterization of the linked JmjN-JmjC domain for the KDM5 family, which should prove useful in the design of KDM5 demethylase inhibitors with improved potency and selectivity.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
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    ABSTRACT: Mammalian DNA (cytosine-5) methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) is essential for maintenance methylation. Phosphorylation of Ser143 (pSer143) stabilizes DNMT1 during DNA replication. Here, we show 14-3-3 is a reader protein of DNMT1pSer143. In mammalian cells 14-3-3 colocalizes and binds DNMT1pSer143 post-DNA replication. The level of DNMT1pSer143 increased with overexpression of 14-3-3 and decreased by its depletion. Binding of 14-3-3 proteins with DNMT1pSer143 resulted in inhibition of DNA methylation activity in vitro. In addition, overexpression of 14-3-3 in NIH3T3 cells led to decrease in DNMT1 specific activity resulting in hypomethylation of the genome that was rescued by transfection of DNMT1. Genes representing cell migration, mobility, proliferation and focal adhesion pathway were hypomethylated and overexpressed. Furthermore, overexpression of 14-3-3 also resulted in enhanced cell invasion. Analysis of TCGA breast cancer patient data showed significant correlation for DNA hypomethylation and reduced patient survival with increased 14-3-3 expressions. Therefore, we suggest that 14-3-3 is a crucial reader of DNMT1pSer143 that regulates DNA methylation and altered gene expression that contributes to cell invasion.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Nucleic Acids Research
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    ABSTRACT: The family of ten-eleven translocation (Tet) dioxygenases is widely distributed across the eukaryotic tree of life, from mammals to the amoeboflagellate Naegleria gruberi. Like mammalian Tet proteins, the Naegleria Tet-like protein, NgTet1, acts on 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and generates 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), 5-formylcytosine (5fC) and 5-carboxylcytosine (5caC) in three consecutive, Fe(II)- and α-ketoglutarate-dependent oxidation reactions. The two intermediates, 5hmC and 5fC, could be considered either as the reaction product of the previous enzymatic cycle or the substrate for the next cycle. Here we present a new crystal structure of NgTet1 in complex with DNA containing a 5hmC. Along with the previously solved NgTet1-5mC structure, the two complexes offer a detailed picture of the active site at individual stages of the reaction cycle. In the crystal, the hydroxymethyl (OH-CH2-) moiety of 5hmC points to the metal center, representing the reaction product of 5mC hydroxylation. The hydroxyl oxygen atom could be rotated away from the metal center, to a hydrophobic pocket formed by Ala212, Val293 and Phe295. Such rotation turns the hydroxyl oxygen atom away from the product conformation, and exposes the target CH2 towards the metal-ligand water molecule, where a dioxygen O2 molecule would occupy to initiate the next round of reaction by abstracting a hydrogen atom from the substrate. The Ala212-to-Val (A212V) mutant profoundly limits the product to 5hmC, probably because the reduced hydrophobic pocket size restricts the binding of 5hmC as a substrate. © The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Nucleic Acids Research
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    ABSTRACT: One of the most fundamental questions in the control of gene expression in mammals is how the pattern of epigenetic modifications of DNA are generated, recognized, and erased. This includes covalent cytosine methylation of DNA and its associated oxidation states. An array of AdoMet-dependent methyltransferases, Fe(II)- and α-ketoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases, base excision glycosylases, and sequence specific transcription factors is responsible for changing, maintaining, and interpreting the modification status of specific regions of chromatin. This review focuses on recent developments in characterizing the functional and structural links between the modification status of two DNA bases 5-methylcytosine and thymine (5-methyluracil). Copyright © 2015, The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
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    ABSTRACT: Modified DNA bases in mammalian genomes, such as 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and its oxidized forms, are implicated in important epigenetic regulation processes. In human or mouse, successive enzymatic conversion of 5mC to its oxidized forms is carried out by the ten-eleven translocation (TET) proteins. Previously we reported the structure of a TET-like 5mC oxygenase (NgTET1) from Naegleria gruberi, a single-celled protist evolutionarily distant from vertebrates. Here we show that NgTET1 is a 5-methylpyrimidine oxygenase, with activity on both 5mC (major activity) and thymidine (T) (minor activity) in all DNA forms tested, and provide unprecedented evidence for the formation of 5-formyluridine (5fU) and 5-carboxyuridine (5caU) in vitro. Mutagenesis studies reveal a delicate balance between choice of 5mC or T as the preferred substrate. Furthermore, our results suggest substrate preference by NgTET1 to 5mCpG and TpG dinucleotide sites in DNA. Intriguingly, NgTET1 displays higher T-oxidation activity in vitro than mammalian TET1, supporting a closer evolutionary relationship between NgTET1 and the base J-binding proteins from trypanosomes. Finally, we demonstrate that NgTET1 can be readily used as a tool in 5mC sequencing technologies such as single molecule, realtime sequencing to map 5mC in bacterial genomes at base resolution.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    John R Horton · Xing Zhang · Robert M Blumenthal · Xiaodong Cheng
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    ABSTRACT: DNA adenine methyltransferase (Dam) is widespread and conserved among the γ-proteobacteria. Methylation of the Ade in GATC sequences regulates diverse bacterial cell functions, including gene expression, mismatch repair and chromosome replication. Dam also controls virulence in many pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria. An unexplained and perplexing observation about Escherichia coli Dam (EcoDam) is that there is no obvious relationship between the genes that are transcriptionally responsive to Dam and the promoter-proximal presence of GATC sequences. Here, we demonstrate that EcoDam interacts with a 5-base pair non-cognate sequence distinct from GATC. The crystal structure of a non-cognate complex allowed us to identify a DNA binding element, GTYTA/TARAC (where Y = C/T and R = A/G). This element immediately flanks GATC sites in some Dam-regulated promoters, including the Pap operon which specifies pyelonephritis-associated pili. In addition, Dam interacts with near-cognate GATC sequences (i.e. 3/4-site ATC and GAT). Taken together, these results imply that Dam, in addition to being responsible for GATC methylation, could also function as a methylation-independent transcriptional repressor. © The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Nucleic Acids Research
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    ABSTRACT: Fragile X syndrome (FXS) results in intellectual disability (ID) most often caused by silencing of the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene. The resulting absence of fragile X mental retardation protein 1 (FMRP) leads to both pre- and postsynaptic defects, yet whether the pre- and postsynaptic functions of FMRP are independent and have distinct roles in FXS neuropathology remain poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate an independent presynaptic function for FMRP through the study of an ID patient with an FMR1 missense mutation. This mutation, c.413G > A (R138Q), preserves FMRP’s canonical functions in RNA binding and translational regulation, which are traditionally associated with postsynaptic compartments. However, neuronally driven expression of the mutant FMRP is unable to rescue structural defects at the neuromuscular junction in fragile x mental retardation 1 (dfmr1)-deficient Drosophila, suggesting a presynaptic-specific impairment. Furthermore, mutant FMRP loses the ability to rescue presy
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Robert E. Collins · Xiaodong Cheng
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    ABSTRACT: The ankyrin repeats (ANKs) of the methyltransferases G9a and GLP bind methyllysine (meK) in a surface aromatic cage. Binding the methylation product with the very same polypeptide that generates it seems essential for some G9a/GLP functions, but it is dispensable for others. We first consider the structure of ANKs, particularly to illustrate that different binding modes can exist on the same scaffold and to facilitate the search for other meK-binding ANKs. Huntingtin (HTT)-interacting protein-14 (HIP14) was predicted based on conservation of key cage residues to also have a surface aromatic cage. This prediction has been confirmed, but the HIP14-binding partner remains elusive. Hip14 interacts with HTT through its ANKs. Htt directly binds a methyltransferase and manifests improper patterns of post-translational modification in Huntington’s disease. We have extended the search for other ANKs with meK-binding potential, and we present our results.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015
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    ABSTRACT: doi: 10.1021/cs501702k
    Preview · Article · Dec 2014 · ACS Catalysis
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    ABSTRACT: Fragile X syndrome, a common cause of intellectual disability and autism, is due to mutational silencing of the FMR1 gene leading to the absence of its gene product, FMRP. FMRP is a selective RNA-binding protein owing to two central KH domains and a C-terminal RGG box. However, several properties of the FMRP amino terminus are unresolved. It has been documented for over a decade that the amino terminus has the ability to bind RNA despite having no recognizable functional motifs. Moreover, the amino terminus has recently been shown to bind chromatin and influence the DNA damage response as well as function in the presynaptic space, modulating action potential duration. We report here the amino terminal crystal structures of wild-type FMRP, and a mutant (R138Q) that disrupts the amino terminus function, containing an integral tandem Agenet and discover a novel KH motif. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Human Molecular Genetics
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    ABSTRACT: MspJI belongs to a family of restriction enzymes that cleave DNA containing 5-methylcytosine (5mC) or 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC). MspJI is specific for the sequence 5(h)mC-N-N-G or A and cleaves with some variability 9/13 nucleotides downstream. Earlier, we reported the crystal structure of MspJI without DNA and proposed how it might recognize this sequence and catalyze cleavage. Here we report its co-crystal structure with a 27-base pair oligonucleotide containing 5mC. This structure confirms that MspJI acts as a homotetramer and that the modified cytosine is flipped from the DNA helix into an SRA-like-binding pocket. We expected the structure to reveal two DNA molecules bound specifically to the tetramer and engaged with the enzyme's two DNA-cleavage sites. A coincidence of crystal packing precluded this organization, however. We found that each DNA molecule interacted with two adjacent tetramers, binding one specifically and the other non-specifically. The latter interaction, which prevented cleavage-site engagement, also involved base flipping and might represent the sequence-interrogation phase that precedes specific recognition. MspJI is unusual in that DNA molecules are recognized and cleaved by different subunits. Such interchange of function might explain how other complex multimeric restriction enzymes act.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Nucleic Acids Research
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    ABSTRACT: In mammalian DNA, cytosine occurs in several chemical forms, including unmodified cytosine (C), 5-methylcytosine (5mC), 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), 5-formylcytosine (5fC), and 5-carboxylcytosine (5caC). 5mC is a major epigenetic signal that acts to regulate gene expression. 5hmC, 5fC, and 5caC are oxidized derivatives that might also act as distinct epigenetic signals. We investigated the response of the zinc finger DNA-binding domains of transcription factors early growth response protein 1 (Egr1) and Wilms tumor protein 1 (WT1) to different forms of modified cytosine within their recognition sequence, 5'-GCG(T/G)GGGCG-3'. Both displayed high affinity for the sequence when C or 5mC was present and much reduced affinity when 5hmC or 5fC was present, indicating that they differentiate primarily oxidized C from unoxidized C, rather than methylated C from unmethylated C. 5caC affected the two proteins differently, abolishing binding by Egr1 but not by WT1. We ascribe this difference to electrostatic interactions in the binding sites. In Egr1, a negatively charged glutamate conflicts with the negatively charged carboxylate of 5caC, whereas the corresponding glutamine of WT1 interacts with this group favorably. Our analyses shows that zinc finger proteins (and their splice variants) can respond in modulated ways to alternative modifications within their binding sequence.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Genes & Development
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    ABSTRACT: Arabidopsis thaliana Repressor of silencing 1 (ROS1) is a multi-domain bifunctional DNA glycosylase/lyase, which excises 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) as well as thymine and 5-hydroxymethyluracil (i.e., the deamination products of 5mC and 5hmC) when paired with a guanine, leaving an apyrimidinic (AP) site that is subsequently incised by the lyase activity. ROS1 is slow in base excision and fast in AP lyase activity, indicating that the recognition of pyrimidine modifications might be a rate-limiting step. In the C-terminal half, the enzyme harbors a Helix-hairpin-Helix DNA glycosylase domain followed by a unique C-terminal domain. We show that the isolated glycosylase domain is inactive for base excision, but retains partial AP lyase activity. Addition of the C-terminal domain restores the base excision activity and increased the AP lyase activity as well. Furthermore, the two domains remain tightly associated and can be co-purified by chromatography. We suggest that the C-terminal domain of ROS1 is indispensable for the 5mC DNA glycosylase activity of ROS1.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Journal of Molecular Biology
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    ABSTRACT: During the development, mammalian germ line cells and brains undergo a series of cellular and molecular events that lead to the erasure and re-establishment of epigenetic programs. It is possible that the active erasure and the re-establishment of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) marks during germ line differentiation and brain development from fetus to young adult involve dynamic changes of 5mC into oxidative marks, and that these modified cytosine residues in DNA are recognized by specific protein readers with distinct roles in the maintenance of epigenetic memory. Here we report our on-going biochemical and structural analyses of generation, recognition and erasure of these marks.
    Preview · Article · Aug 2014 · Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances
  • Xiaodong Cheng
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    ABSTRACT: One of the most fundamental questions in the control of gene expression in mammals is how epigenetic methylation patterns of DNA and histones are established, erased, and recognized. This central process in controlling gene expression includes coordinated covalent modifications of DNA and its associated histones. This article focuses on structural aspects of enzymatic activities of histone (arginine and lysine) methylation and demethylation and functional links between the methylation status of the DNA and histones. An interconnected network of methyltransferases, demethylases, and accessory proteins is responsible for changing or maintaining the modification status of specific regions of chromatin.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2014 · Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology
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    ABSTRACT: Unlabelled: Mammalian genomes are replete with retrotransposable elements, including endogenous retroviruses. DNA methyltransferase 3-like (DNMT3L) is an epigenetic regulator expressed in prospermatogonia, growing oocytes, and embryonic stem (ES) cells. Here, we demonstrate that DNMT3L enhances the interaction of repressive epigenetic modifiers, including histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1), SET domain, bifurcated 1 (SETDB1), DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A), and tripartite motif-containing protein 28 (TRIM28; also known as TIF1β and KAP1) in ES cells and orchestrates retroviral silencing activity with TRIM28 through mechanisms including, but not limited to, de novo DNA methylation. Ectopic expression of DNMT3L in somatic cells causes methylation-independent retroviral silencing activity by recruitment of the TRIM28/HDAC1/SETDB1/DNMT3A/DNMT3L complex to newly integrated Moloney murine leukemia virus (Mo-MuLV) proviral DNA. Concurrent with this recruitment, we also observed the accumulation of histone H3 lysine 9 trimethylation (H3K9me3) and heterochromatin protein 1 gamma (HP1γ), as well as reduced H3K9 and H3K27 acetylation at Mo-MuLV proviral sequences. Ectopic expression of DNMT3L in late-passage mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) recruited cytoplasmically localized HDAC1 to the nucleus. The formation of this epigenetic modifying complex requires interaction of DNMT3L with DNMT3A as well as with histone H3. In fetal testes at embryonic day 17.5, endogenous DNMT3L also enhanced the binding among TRIM28, DNMT3A, SETDB1, and HDAC1. We propose that DNMT3L may be involved in initiating a cascade of repressive epigenetic modifications by assisting in the preparation of a chromatin context that further attracts DNMT3A-DNMT3L binding and installs longer-term DNA methylation marks at newly integrated retroviruses. Importance: Almost half of the mammalian genome is composed of endogenous retroviruses and other retrotransposable elements that threaten genomic integrity. These elements are usually subject to epigenetic silencing. We discovered that two epigenetic regulators that lack enzymatic activity, DNA methyltransferase 3-like (DNMT3L) and tripartite motif-containing protein 28 (TRIM28), collaborate with each other to impose retroviral silencing. In addition to modulating de novo DNA methylation, we found that by interacting with TRIM28, DNMT3L can attract various enzymes to form a DNMT3L-induced repressive complex to remove active marks and add repressive marks to histone proteins. Collectively, these results reveal a novel and pivotal function of DNMT3L in shaping the chromatin modifications necessary for retroviral and retrotransposon silencing.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Journal of Virology
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    ABSTRACT: AbaSI, a member of the PvuRts1I-family of modification-dependent restriction endonucleases, cleaves deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) containing 5-hydroxymethylctosine (5hmC) and glucosylated 5hmC (g5hmC), but not DNA containing unmodified cytosine. AbaSI has been used as a tool for mapping the genomic locations of 5hmC, an important epigenetic modification in the DNA of higher organisms. Here we report the crystal structures of AbaSI in the presence and absence of DNA. These structures provide considerable, although incomplete, insight into how this enzyme acts. AbaSI appears to be mainly a homodimer in solution, but interacts with DNA in our structures as a homotetramer. Each AbaSI subunit comprises an N-terminal, Vsr-like, cleavage domain containing a single catalytic site, and a C-terminal, SRA-like, 5hmC-binding domain. Two N-terminal helices mediate most of the homodimer interface. Dimerization brings together the two catalytic sites required for double-strand cleavage, and separates the 5hmC binding-domains by ∼70 Å, consistent with the known activity of AbaSI which cleaves DNA optimally between symmetrically modified cytosines ∼22 bp apart. The eukaryotic SET and RING-associated (SRA) domains bind to DNA containing 5-methylcytosine (5mC) in the hemi-methylated CpG sequence. They make contacts in both the major and minor DNA grooves, and flip the modified cytosine out of the helix into a conserved binding pocket. In contrast, the SRA-like domain of AbaSI, which has no sequence specificity, contacts only the minor DNA groove, and in our current structures the 5hmC remains intra-helical. A conserved, binding pocket is nevertheless present in this domain, suitable for accommodating 5hmC and g5hmC. We consider it likely, therefore, that base-flipping is part of the recognition and cleavage mechanism of AbaSI, but that our structures represent an earlier, pre-flipped stage, prior to actual recognition.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Nucleic Acids Research
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    ABSTRACT: Chemical manipulations performed on the histone H3 lysine 9 methyltransferases (G9a/GLP) inhibitor BIX-01294 afforded novel desmethoxyquinazolines able to inhibit the DNA methyltransferase DNMT3A at low micromolar levels without any significant inhibition of DNMT1 and G9a. In KG-1 cells such compounds, when tested at sub-toxic doses, induced the luciferase re-expression in a stable construct controlled by a cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter silenced by methylation (CMV-luc assay). Finally, in human lymphoma U-937 and RAJI cells, the N-(1-benzylpiperidin-4-yl)-2-(4-phenylpiperazin-1-yl)quinazolin-4-amine induced the highest proliferation arrest and cell death induction starting from 10 µM, in agreement with its DNMT3A inhibitory potency.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · PLoS ONE

Publication Stats

11k Citations
1,230.69 Total Impact Points


  • 1997-2015
    • Emory University
      • Department of Biochemistry
      Atlanta, Georgia, United States
  • 2012
    • Wayne State University
      • Department of Chemistry
      Detroit, Michigan, United States
  • 2011
    • University of Chicago
      • Institute for Biophysical Dynamics
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
    • Stanford University
      • Department of Biology
      Palo Alto, California, United States
  • 2010
    • Yale University
      New Haven, Connecticut, United States
  • 2002
    • University of Southern California
      • Department of Pathology
      Los Ángeles, California, United States
  • 1992-2002
    • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
      コールド・スプリング・ハーバー, New York, United States
  • 1996
    • Medical University of Ohio at Toledo
      • Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology
      Toledo, Ohio, United States
  • 1995
    • Freie Universität Berlin
      Berlín, Berlin, Germany