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Centenary Institute - Medical Research
Centenary Institute - Medical Research

Cancer and Gene Regulation

Gene regulation is frequently dysregulated in cancer. During cancer initiation, transcription factors can exhibit somatic mutations including point mutations in regulatory domains or undergo copy number variations due to genetic deletion.

The essential chromatin organising protein and tumour suppressor gene CTCF is central to our research focus. Mutations in CTCF occur frequently in endometrial and breast cancers, as well as leukaemia. We are functionally characterising mutations in CTCF and their impact on DNA binding, protein-protein interactions, chromatin organisation and cell growth characteristics. Our research is revealing new insights into the molecular pathogenesis of cancer initiation and progression.

To understand the impact of somatic mutations on key regulatory genes in cancer, we are performing cell growth and DNA-binding assays, loss- or gain-of-function studies, examining protein-protein interactions and transcriptomics.

Our expertise in molecular modelling of somatic mutations on existing protein structures or by developing homology models has enabled us to examine structure-function relationships in cancer.

Furthermore, our mouse models of those genetic lesions that result in genetic haploinsufficiency are helping us to understand cancer causation in various tissues and organs and their impact on normal gene regulatory homeostasis.

Dr Chuck (Charles) Bailey, is the head of the Cancer and Gene Regulation Laboratory at the Centenary Institute. He trained as a molecular and cellular biologist (PhD, CRC for Biopharmaceutical Research, UNSW) and has 20 years’ experience in studying molecular mechanisms of genetic disease and cancer. In 2001, he joined the Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program headed by Professor John Rasko at the Centenary Institute studying the molecular genetics of human amino acid transporter disorders. His work lead to the discovery of the genetic causes of 3 of the 5 principal inherited amino acid transport disorders in humans, published in Nature Genetics and The Journal of Clinical Investigation (x2).

He was appointed as a Senior Research Officer in 2007 and where he began studying the role of transcription factors in cancer causation. By understanding fundamental gene regulatory mechanisms in normal biology, he is applying this knowledge to elucidating aberrant transcription factor function in cancer. With a particular focus on the chromatin organising protein CTCF, and its paralogue BORIS, he has been examining gene regulatory circuitry and protein interaction networks that are essential in cancer.


  • Dr Mehdi Sharifi Tabar, Research Officer
  • Cynthia Metierre, Research Assistant
  • Rajini Nagarajah, Research Assistant
  • Habib Francis, PhD student
  • Alex Sherman, MPhil student
  • Quinlyn Satava, Honours student
  • Vivienne Kaiser, Honours student

For access to all Publications via Pub Med.