Skip to Content

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

William P.  Tansey

William P. Tansey, Ph.D.

Co-Leader, Genome Maintenance Research Program
Ingram Professor of Cancer Research
Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology

Contact Information:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
4140-A MRB 3, 465 21st Ave So.
Nashville, TN 37232-8240
Fax: 615-936-5673

Research Specialty

Oncoproteins, Ubiquitin, Proteolysis

Research Description

Transcription and ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis are two processes that might seem to have little in common. Transcription is the first step in the life of any protein; proteolysis the last. Despite the disparate nature of these processes, a growing body of evidence suggests that components of the ubiquitin-proteasome system are intimately involved in the regulation of gene expression. Research in my laboratory is geared toward understanding how these two processes intersect, and the consequences of this intersection for cellular growth control.

Our current research is divided into two areas. One area is focused on revealing the basic mechanisms that connect the transcription and ubiquitin systems. We have previously found that the destruction of transcription factors is intimately tied to their ability to activate transcription, and that components of the proteasome play an essential role in the regulation of histone modifications. We are currently studying how prototypical transcription factors, such as the yeast activator Gal4, interact with ubiquitin and with the proteasome to regulate gene expression.

Our second area of research is focused on understanding how the destruction of transcription factors impacts mammalian cell growth control. These studies center on Myc, an oncoprotein transcription factor that features prominently in human cancer. We have previously found that Myc is rapidly destroyed by the ubiquitin-system, and that oncogenic mutations within Myc stabilize the protein, allowing it to accumulate. We seek to identify the cellular machinery that targets Myc for ubiquitin-mediated destruction, and learn how the regulation of Myc turnover--and loss of control of this process--relates to human cancer.