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Workman Lab

Our research focuses on how DNA and proteins interact to regulate gene expression.

Research Summary

What governs gene expression?

Research Areas

Molecular and Cell Biology, Genetics and Genomics, Systems Biology


Human cell lines, Yeast

The Workman Lab studies how large protein complexes modify chromatin and control gene expression in yeast, fruit flies, and mammalian cells. Studying the mechanism of, and mutations in these protein complexes offers insight into human health and disease.

The human DNA code is three billion letters long. To squeeze into the tiny nucleus of each cell, every 200 letters or so the DNA wraps around protein balls, called histones, resembling beads on a string. The necklace then gets folded and compressed many times over, ultimately forming finger-like chromosomes.

Workman was among the first to discover histones, which are essential for packaging DNA with chromatin, a component of chromosomes, and are crucial for regulating gene expression. He additionally pioneered the concept of “transcription co-activators,” and his lab has uncovered various large protein complexes that modify gene expression by causing histones to either loosen or tighten their grip on DNA, leaving it open to enzymes that can efficiently read its code and turn on genes.

The lab also focuses on how signaling, metabolism, and chromatin regulate information contained in the DNA sequence and feedback to cellular events. Workman has shown how chromatin-modifying complexes influence RNA regulation. Mutations in these and other complexes have been implicated in cancer and other diseases.

Principal Investigator

Jerry Workman


Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Portrait of Jerry Workman

Get to know the lab


In 2018, Jerry Workman was awarded a Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences based on the lab’s research on chromatin-modifying complexes, including a focus on the multi-subunit complexes SAGA and SWI/SNF.

Dr. Jerry Workman's lab team standing in front of a fountain at the Stowers Institute in Kansas City

Our Team

Featured Publications

Beyond Moco Biosynthesis-Moonlighting Roles of MoaE and MOCS2

Suganuma T. Molecules. 2022;27:3733. doi: 3710.3390/molecules27123733.

MPTAC links alkylation damage signaling to sterol biosynthesis

Suganuma T, Workman JL. Redox Biol. 2022;51:102270. doi: 102210.101016/j.redox.102022.102270.

MOCS2 links nucleotide metabolism to nucleoli function

Suganuma T, Swanson SK, Gogol M, Garrett TJ, Florens L, Workman JL. J Mol Cell Biol. 2022;13:838-840.

The SAGA core module is critical during Drosophila oogenesis and is broadly recruited to promoters

Soffers JHM, Alcantara SG, Li X, Shao W, Seidel CW, Li H, Zeitlinger J, Abmayr SM, Workman JL. PLoS Genet. 2021;17:e1009668. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009668.

Structural basis of the interaction between SETD2 methyltransferase and hnRNP L paralogs for governing co-transcriptional splicing

Bhattacharya S, Wang S, Reddy D, Shen S, Zhang Y, Zhang N, Li H, Washburn MP, Florens L, Shi Y, Workman JL, Li F. Nat Commun. 2021;12:6452. doi: 6410.1038/s41467-41021-26799-41463.

Macrophages, Metabolites, and Nucleosomes: Chromatin at the intersection between aging and inflammation

Church MC, Workman JL, Suganuma T.  Int J Mol Sci. 2021;22:10274. doi: 10210.13390/ijms221910274.

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