Housheng (Hansen) He, PhD

Cancer arises from the breakdown of normal cellular regulatory systems. This malfunction can be a consequence of genetic mutation as well as epigenetic changes. Key epigenetic alterations, including histone modification and DNA methylation, often result in global as well as localized chromatin packaging that influences the transcription of genes important to cancer. While genetic changes are almost impossible to reverse, epigenetic alterations are potentially reversible. Drugs that modify the epigenetic state promise to be effective new cancer therapies. However, the mechanism(s) underlying the epigenetic regulation of cancer cells, as well as the way in which drugs manipulate the epigenetic state and transcription, remain largely unknown. Moreover, as epigenetic regulation is critical to maintaing normal cellular function, the characterization of cancer-specific epigenetic reprogramming is an essential step for increasing specificity of epigenetic therapy. Noncoding RNA, particularly long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), has recently become a new area of focus in cancer biology, with evidence suggesting that it is essential to epigenetic reprogramming during cancer development and progression.

The He laboratory applies a variety of genomic, epigenomic experimental and computational approaches to elucidate the functional role of epigenetic regulation in cancer development, progression and drug response, with a special focus on the interplay between epigenetic regulators and noncoding RNA. Combining experimental and computational expertise, we are in a unique position to make major contributions to the general understanding of cancer biology and the improvement of epigenetic therapy. Our research focuses on three major directions: 1. Role of noncoding RNA and epigenetic regulators in transcriptional regulation; 2. Molecular mechanism(s) of epigenetic regulation in cancer development, progression, drug response and resistance; and 3. Development of experimental and computational approaches for genome-wide epigenetic and noncoding RNA analysis.

Related Links

Per Med. 2017 Mar;14(2):159-169
Hua J, Lu J, Isaev K, Soares F, Guo H, Ahmed M, He HH
Cancer Res. 2018 Feb 27;:
Ci X, Hao J, Dong X, Choi SYC, Xue H, Wu R, Qu S, Gout PW, Zhang F, Haegert AM, Fazil L, Crea F, Ong CJ, Zoubedi A, He HH, Gleave ME, Collins CC, Lin D, Wang Y
Cancer Res. 2017 Sep 15;:
Liang Y, Ahmed M, Guo H, Soares F, Hua JT, Gao S, Lu C, Poon C, Han W, Langstein J, Ekram MB, Li B, Davicioni E, Takhar M, Erho N, Karnes RJ, Chadwick D, van der Kwast T, Boutros PC, Arrowsmith CH, Feng FY, Joshua AM, Zoubeidi A, Cai C, He HH
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Jun 13;:
Fei T, Chen Y, Xiao T, Li W, Cato L, Zhang P, Cotter MB, Bowden M, Lis RT, Zhao SG, Wu Q, Feng FY, Loda M, He HH, Liu XS, Brown M
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Mar 13;:
Liu Y, Chen S, Wang S, Soares F, Fischer M, Meng F, Du Z, Lin C, Meyer C, DeCaprio JA, Brown M, Liu XS, He HH
BioData Min. 2017;10:9
Ahmed M, Sallari RC, Guo H, Moore JH, He HH, Lupien M
Nat Commun. 2017 Jan 13;8:14003
Hao Z, Sheng Y, Duncan GS, Li WY, Dominguez C, Sylvester J, Su YW, Lin GH, Snow BE, Brenner D, You-Ten A, Haight J, Inoue S, Wakeham A, Elford A, Hamilton S, Liang Y, Zúñiga-Pflücker JC, He HH, Ohashi PS, Mak TW
Nature. 2017 Jan 09;:
Fraser M, Sabelnykova VY, Yamaguchi TN, Heisler LE, Livingstone J, Huang V, Shiah YJ, Yousif F, Lin X, Masella AP, Fox NS, Xie M, Prokopec SD, Berlin A, Lalonde E, Ahmed M, Trudel D, Luo X, Beck TA, Meng A, Zhang J, D'Costa A, Denroche RE, Kong H,...
Epigenomics. 2016 Nov 25;
Guo H, Ahmed M, Hua J, Soares F, He HH
Cell Rep. 2016 Oct 18;17(4):966-976
Gao S, Gao Y, He HH, Han D, Han W, Avery A, Macoska JA, Liu X, Chen S, Ma F, Chen S, Balk SP, Cai C



Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto