Molecular Genetics and Cancer Genomics Lab



Dr. Ahn’s laboratory studies molecular mechanisms of abnormal gene expression in cancer. The laboratory is interested in gene transcription, RNA splicing, chromatin structure and non-coding RNAs which play roles in cancer development and progression. Current efforts of the laboratory focus on function of SON, a novel DNA-/RNA-binding proteins, in hematopoiesis, leukemia and breast cancer. Another major project in the lab is functional characterization of non-coding RNAs, including long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and microRNAs, abnormally expressed in cancer and their roles in blood differentiation and breast cancer metastasis. We are also working on long-range chromatin interactions that cause cancer-related gene expression. Our long-term research goal is to understand processes causing abnormal gene expression in cancer in order to identify novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers. 


Ahn Lab-4-4-2016-III resized.jpgFaculty and Staff

Erin Eun-Young Ahn, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Oncologic Sciences

Jung-Hyun Kim, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Eun Young Park, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Joshua Stone
Graduate Student



Ahn-model-cropped.jpgSON-mediated RNA splicing and leukemia

Leukemia is the most common and devastating cancer affecting children and young adults with high mortality rate. Dysregulation of gene expression is a key feature of leukemia, and better understanding of molecular mechanisms of abnormal gene expression is necessary to develop new therapeutic targets. SON is a recently identified DNA- and RNA-binding protein predominantly localized in nuclear speckles, and we have demonstrated that SON is involved on RNA splicing of multiple genes associated with cell cycle, DNA repair and cell survival. We are working to figure out how SON is involved in dysregulation of RNA splicing in blood cell proliferation/differentiation and leukemia.


Epigenetic regulation of gene transcription in cancer

Transcription is the very first step by which cells use genetic information stored in genomic DNA. Abnormal regulation of transcriptional initiation and elongation is a fundamental cause of cellular transformation, poor differentiation and uncontrolled proliferation. We are interested in epigenetic regulatory mechanisms of transcriptional control, such as histone modifications and DNA methylation.  Currently, we are working on SON-mediated epigenetic regulation, in both leukemia and solid tumors.


Non-coding RNAs in breast cancer

RNAs are not just for proteins! Emerging evidence has shown critical roles of non-coding RNA in multiple steps in gene expression. Our lab is interested in identification of novel long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and the mechanisms of their actions in gene expression. Especially, lncRNAs differentially regulated in leukemia and metastatic solid tumors are our major interest.


Core Labs

Flow Cytometry and Imaging Core Laboratories

Mass spectrometry and Proteomics Core Laboratory

Cellular and Biomolecular Imaging facility

Cellular Bioenergetics Core Laboratory

Tumor Biobank



NIH/NIC  R21 CA185818-01A1   (PI: Ahn)                             

NIH/NCI  R01 CA190688-01A1    (PI: Ahn) 


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