Holmes Receives NIH Grant for Histone Protein Research

Scott Holmes, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a grant worth $374,150 from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will support a study on “Functional interaction of histone H1 with the core nucleosome” until 2015. Several Wesleyan undergraduates conducted experiments crucial for developing this grant proposal, including Samantha Schilit ’10, MA ’11, who is currently in her first year as a Ph.D. candidate at the Harvard School of Medicine.

Histone proteins organize DNA into its basic organizational unit, the chromosome, and have a fundamental influence on the function of DNA. The four core histones assemble into the disc-shaped nucleosome, while the fifth histone, H1, associates with the DNA linking adjacent nucleosomes. While histone H1 is essential for life in most organisms, its specific functions remain enigmatic.

“We are using molecular genetics to examine the function of histone H1 in yeast cells, focusing on the joint contributions histone H1 and the core histones make to regulating gene expression,” Holmes explains.