Professor Anne K. Voss - The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Histone acetylation in the regulation of stem cell populations


Host: Professor David Tremethick



Stem cells must maintain their own cell identity and undergo self-renewing cell divisions, while retaining the capacity to differentiate into morphologically and functionally distinct progeny. Cell fate changes necessitate silencing of stem cell-specific genes and activation of the new expression programs. These processes are accompanied by modifications of the chromatin. Chromatin-mediated repression needs to be overcome to allow induction of new gene expression programs. The MYST family histone acetyltransferase proteins are essential in the regulation of the self-renewal and differentiation in stem cell populations. Their molecular and cellular roles will be discussed in this presentation.



Prof. Anne K. Voss established her laboratory at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) in Melbourne, Australia in 2000, after post-doctoral positions at Cornell University, USA and at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Germany. From 2012-2018 Anne was Head of the Development and Cancer Division, and since 2019 she is Joint-Head of the Epigenetics and Development Division at WEHI. Anne received the Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship (Biomedical Science) in 2015; the ATSE Clunies Ross Award (Knowledge Commercialisation) in 2021 with Tim Thomas and Jonathan Baell, for the commercialisation of MYST histone acetyltransferase inhibitors for the treatment of cancer; the Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation in 2021 and the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research 2023, both with Tim Thomas, for the characterisation of MYST proteins, discovery of their key functions, validation as novel targets for anti-cancer therapeutics, and the discovery of a new type of anti-cancer compounds. Anne investigates the genetic regulation of embryonic development, adult stem cells and cancer with particular emphasis on transcriptional regulation through chromatin modifications in health and disease. She has described the roles of the MYST family of histone acetyltransferases (KAT5, KAT6A, KAT6B, KAT7, KAT8) in embryonic development, identified their histone lysine acetylation targets, investigated their genomic distribution and effects on gene expression and DNA replication, as well as determined the cellular functions affected by loss of MYST family members in healthy cells and in cancer cells.