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

Sci Adv. 2019 Dec;5(12):eaax8898
Francis R, Guo H, Streutker C, Ahmed M, Yung T, Dirks PB, He HH, Kim TH
Cancer Cell. 2019 Nov 04;:
Mazrooei P, Kron KJ, Zhu Y, Zhou S, Grillo G, Mehdi T, Ahmed M, Severson TM, Guilhamon P, Armstrong NS, Huang V, Yamaguchi TN, Fraser M, van der Kwast T, Boutros PC, He HH, Bergman AM, Bristow RG, Zwart W, Lupien M
Clin Cancer Res. 2019 Oct 29;:
Wang S, Huang J, Li C, Zhao L, Wong CC, Zhai J, Zhou Y, Deng W, Zeng Y, Gao S, Zhang Y, Wang G, Guan XY, Wei H, Wong SH, He HH, Shay JW, Yu J
Trends Genet. 2019 Nov;35(11):840-851
Hua JT, Chen S, He HH
Nat Med. 2019 Oct 07;:
Houlahan KE, Shiah YJ, Gusev A, Yuan J, Ahmed M, Shetty A, Ramanand SG, Yao CQ, Bell C, O'Connor E, Huang V, Fraser M, Heisler LE, Livingstone J, Yamaguchi TN, Rouette A, Foucal A, Espiritu SMG, Sinha A, Sam M, Timms L, Johns J, Wong A, Murison A,...
Cancer Res. 2019 Aug 23;:
Cai C, Han D, Chen S, Han W, Gao S, Owiredu JN, Li M, Balk SP, He HH
Cell Res. 2019 Jul 19;:
Gao S, Chen S, Han D, Barrett D, Han W, Ahmed M, Patalano S, Macoska JA, He HH, Cai C
Clin Cancer Res. 2019 Jul 02;:
Kothari V, Goodwin JF, Zhao SG, Drake JM, Yin Y, Chang SL, Evans JR, Wilder-Romans K, Gabbara K, Dylgjeri E, Chou J, Sun G, Tomlins SA, Mehra R, Hege K, Filvaroff EH, Schaeffer EM, Karnes RJ, Quigley DA, Rathkopf D, He HH, Speers C, Spratt DE, Gilbert...
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Jun 04;116(23):11437-11443
Chi D, Singhal H, Li L, Xiao T, Liu W, Pun M, Jeselsohn R, He H, Lim E, Vadhi R, Rao P, Long H, Garber J, Brown M
Ann Transl Med. 2019 Mar;7(Suppl 1):S21
Teng M, Liu LY, Hua JT, Chen S, He HH



Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto