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John Bracht

Assistant Professor Department of Biology

The totality of DNA in a cell is its genome, and for an organism to survive, its genome must be stably maintained and properly regulated. The fundamental question I am addressing is: How is genome architecture established and maintained in healthy cells and how does it go awry in disease? To address this question I am using a unicellular eukaryote, the ciliate Oxytricha trifallax, as a model system for the role of epigenetics — information on the DNA molecule but outside the DNA sequence — in controlling genome architecture. I currently have funding from NIH to study the role of the DNA repair protein DNA-PKcs in cytosine DNA methylation, and to search for new drugs affecting DNA methylation in hopes of discovering epigenetic cancer therapies.


PhD, University of California, San Diego
BS, New Mexico Tech

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CAS - Biology
Hurst - 111
Office: Hurst 111 Lab: Hurst B12
Contact Info
(202) 885-2189

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For the Media
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  • Fall 2016

    • BIO-496 Selected Topics:Non-Recurring: Computational Genomics
    • Description

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

Chen X1, Bracht JR1, Goldman A, Swart E, Dolzhenko E, Swart E, Clay D, Perlman DH, Doak TG, Stuart A, Amemiya C, Landweber LF. The architecture of a scrambled genome reveals massive levels of genomic rearrangement during development. Cell, in press (Aug. 28, 2014). (1 Equal contribution.)

Bracht JR. Beyond transcriptional silencing: Is cytosine methylation a widely conserved eukaryotic DNA elimination mechanism? BioEssays. April 2014 36(4):346-52.

Bracht JR, Fang W, Goldman AD, Dolzhenko E, Stein EM, Landweber LF. Genomes on the Edge: Programmed Genome Instability in Ciliates. Cell. 2013 Jan 31;152(3):406-416.

Swart E, Bracht JR, Magrini V, Minx P,Chen X, Zhou Y, Khurana J, Goldman AD, Nowacki M, Schotanus K, et al. The Oxytricha trifallax Macronuclear Genome: A Complex Eukaryotic Genome with over 16,000 Tiny Chromosomes. PLoS Biology. 2013 Jan 29;11(1).

Fang W, Wang X, Bracht JR, Nowacki M, Landweber LF. Piwi-Interacting RNAs Protect DNA Against Loss During Oxytricha Genome Rearrangement. Cell. 2012 Dec 7;151(6):1243-1255.

Bracht JR*, Perlman DH, Landweber LF*. Cytosine methylation and hydroxymethylation mark DNA for elimination in Oxytricha trifallax. Genome Biology. 2012 Oct 17;13(10):R99.  *corresponding.

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

K22 Transition Career Development Award (National Cancer Institute): Model systems for the investigation of DNA methylation and drug repurposing (2014-2017)

F32 NRSA Postoctoral Fellowship: Epigenetic regulation of programmed genome instability in O. trifallax (2012-2014)