The Mapp research group uses the tools of synthetic organic chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology to better understand how genes are regulated. Projects in the group range from the development of new synthetic methods for preparing complex, optically active structures to manipulating genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast) in order to identify key protein-protein interactions in gene activation. Our group is multidisciplinary with students from the Medicinal Chemistry Program, Program in Chemical Biology, and the Department of Chemistry.
Much of our research focuses upon developing a molecular-level picture of inducible gene expression in eukaryotes using organic molecules as mechanistic probes. Regulated gene expression is critical for cellular existence, and a number of human diseases such as cancer and diabetes have been linked to aberrant patterns of gene expression. Therefore, a goal of primary importance in the scientific community is the discovery of transcription-based therapeutics capable of reprogramming gene expression in diseased cells while leaving normal cells unaffected. While a general sequence of events that leads to gene up-regulation is agreed upon, the molecular-level interactions that regulate the levels and time course of transcriptional activation remain unknown. A more detailed picture of gene regulation is a prerequisite for the eventual development of transcription-based therapeutics.