Research Fellows Directory
Dr Akane Kawamura
University of Oxford
We are interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of epigenetic processes. Epigenetics can be used to describe modifications to DNA and histones which constitute a set of changes in gene expression, without changing the underlying DNA sequences. The combinations of modifications on histones and DNA serve as ‘codes’ or instructions on how the DNA is read. While some modifications can be stable and inherited over generations, they can also be dynamic. By developing chemical probes against the proteins that regulate/read histone modifications, we hope to gain a better understanding of their complex biological functions and mechanisms, and how they influence the expression of genes.
Our current major research focus is on histone demethylases, a biomedically important family of oxygenase enzymes that modulate the methylation levels on histone tails. Histone demethylases are currently being pursued as therapeutic targets for many diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular, metabolic and inflammatory diseases. We utilize a wide range of biochemical, biophysical and cellular techniques to study the functions of histone demethylases. We are also developing inhibitors against this family of enzymes to use as chemical probes. These inhibitors can potentially be used as starting points for designing therapeutic molecules.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)