Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences

Staff Profile

Dr Simon Whitehall

Senior Lecturer



BSc (Hons) Applied Biology 1989
D.Phil Biochemistry 1992

Honours and Awards

1995 ICRF Postdoctoral Fellowship
1993 Human Frontiers in Science Program Organisation Postdoctoral Fellowship
1989 Gatsby Charitable Foundation Prize Studentship


Histone chaperones and the regulation of gene expression, silencing and genomic integrity

The packaging of DNA into chromatin is essential for the organization of eukaryotic genomes. However, a variety of DNA-dependent processes such as replication, transcription, recombination and repair can disrupt this packaging and so factors that mediate chromatin assembly are required to maintain genomic integrity. We are studying the function of histone chaperones that mediate the assembly of nucleosomes, the primary subunit of chromatin. The proteins and processes that we study have been highly conserved throughout eukaryotic evolution, which allows us to employ the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe as a model system for our analyses. Recent work has focussed upon the highly conserved HIRA histone chaperone complex. We have demonstrated that HIRA functions as a global regulator of transcription, being required for heterochromatic silencing, the repression of a large number of RNA polymerase II promoters and the suppression of cryptic non-coding transcripts.