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Ben E. Black, Ph.D.

Ben E. Black

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Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Department: Biochemistry and Biophysics

Contact information
913A Stellar-Chance Laboratories
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-898-5039
Fax: 215-573-7058
B.A. (Biology)
Carleton College, 1997.
PhD (Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics)
University of Virginia, 2002.
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Description of Research Expertise

Description of Research:
Dr. Black's laboratory is interested in how particular proteins direct accurate chromosome segregation at mitosis. In humans, the chromosomal element—the centromere—that directs this process is not defined by a particular DNA sequence. Rather, the location of the centromere is dictated by an epigenetic mark generated by one or more resident proteins. These centromeric proteins interact directly with the DNA to create a specialized chromatin compartment that is distinct from any other part of the chromosome. By taking biophysical, biochemical, and cell biological approaches, our work is to define the composition and physical characteristics of the protein and protein/DNA complexes that epigenetically mark the location of the centromere on the chromosome. This work involves building centromeric chromatin from its component parts for analysis of its physical characteristics, developing biochemical assays to reconstitute steps in the process of establishing and maintaining the epigenetic mark, and using cell-based approaches to study the behavior of proteins involved in centromere inheritance and other essential aspects related to chromosome segregation at cell division.

Lab personnel:
Jennine Dawicki-McKenna - Postdoctoral Researcher
Jamie DeNizio - Research Specialist
Samantha Falk - Ph.D. Student, CAMB
Lucie Guo - M.D./Ph.D. Student, BMB
Glennis Logsdon - Ph.D. Student, BMB
Kevan Salimian - M.D./Ph.D. Student, BMB
Nikolina Sekulic - Postdoctoral Researcher
Evan Smoak - Ph.D. Student, BMB (co-mentored with Dr. Michael Lampson)

Selected Publications

Bailey, A.O., Panchenko, T., Matadda, S.K., Petkowski, J.J., Pai, P., Bai, D.L., Russell, D.H., Macara, I.G., Shabanowitz, J., Hunt, D.F., Black, B.E., Foltz, D.R.: Post-translational modification of CENP-A influences the conformation of centromeric chromatin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America online ahead of print, 2013.

Hasson, D., Panchenko, T., Salimian, K.J., Salman, M.U., Sekulic, N., Alonso, A., Warburton, P.E., Black, B.E.: The octamer is the major form of CENP-A nucleosomes at human centromeres. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 20: 687-695, 2013.

Bodor, D.L., Valente, L.P., Mata, J.F., Black, B.E., Jansen, L.E.T.: Assembly in G1 phase and long-term stability are unique intrinsic features of CENP-A nucleosomes. Molecular Biology of the Cell 24: 923-932, 2013.

Bassett, E.A., DeNizio, J., Barnhart-Dailey, M.C., Panchenko, T., Sekulic, N., Rogers, D.J., Foltz, D.R., Black, B.E.: HJURP uses distinct CENP-A surfaces to recognize and to stabilize CENP-A/histone H4 for centromere assembly. Developmental Cell 22: 749-762, 2012.

Panchenko, T., Sorensen, T.C., Woodcock, C.L., Kan, Z.Y., Wood, S., Resch, M.G., Luger, K., Englander, S.W., Hansen, J.C., Black, B.E.: Replacement of histone H3 with CENP-A directs global nucleosome array condensation and loosening of nucleosome superhelical termini. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108: 16588-16593, October 2011.

Salimian, K.J., Ballister, E.R., Smoak, E.M., Wood, S., Panchenko, T., Lampson, M.A., Black, B.E.: Feedback control in sensing chromosome biorientation by the Aurora B kinase. Current Biology 21: 1158-1165, July 2011.

Black, B.E., Cleveland, D.W.: Epigenetic centromere propagation and the nature of CENP-A nucleosomes. Cell 144: 471-479, Feb 2011.

Sekulic, N., Bassett, E.A., Rogers, D.J., Black, B.E.: The structure of (CENP-A/H4)(2) reveals physical features that mark centromeres. Nature 467: 347-351, September 2010.

Bassett, E.A., Wood, S., Salimian, K.J., Ajith, S., Foltz, D.R., Black, B.E.: Epigenetic centromere specification directs aurora B accumulation but is insufficient to efficiently correct mitotic errors. Journal of Cell Biology 190: 177-185, July 2010.

Foltz, D.R., Jansen, L.E.T., Bailey, A.O., Yates III, J.R., Bassett, E.A., Wood, S., Black, B.E., Cleveland, D.W.: Centromere-specific assembly of CENP-A nucleosomes is mediated by HJURP. Cell 137: 472-484, May 2009.

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Last updated: 07/11/2013
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