The Cardiovascular Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital


Zhong Wang, PhD

Zhong Wang, PhD

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Lab Overview

My research group focuses on understanding the function of chromatin remodeling complexes called BAF and PBAF in mediating gene expression during heart development. It is estimated that about 15% to 20% of the genes in the human genome encode master proteins controlling gene expression during different stages of development, and chromatin remodeling molecules are a unique group among these proteins. By utilizing the energy of ATP hydrolysis, these molecules change the structure of chromatin, where genetic material DNA is packed, and help other transcription factors to access the DNA and activate gene expression. Thus, malfunction of these proteins in human body can be disastrous. Mutations in these molecules are a potential cause for congenital human diseases, including heart diseases. We have established that two such molecules called BAF180 and BAF250 are essential for mammalian heart development. By applying state-of-the-art technologies such as conditional gene knockout, DNA chips, and chromatin immuno-precipitation assays, we discovered that BAF180 regulates the expression of important genes involved in retinoic acid (Vitamin A derivative) signaling during heart chamber maturation. We are currently investigating these two molecules in a detailed and systematic way to identify the gene expression networks dependent upon them. We hope that our research can help develop modern medical treatments such as small molecule drugs, gene or stem cell/progenitor therapies against congenital heart diseases, or heart failure.
Massachusetts General Hospital the cardiovascular research center