Michael Chao

Curriculum Vitae

Michael Chao
Postdoc, Harvard Medical School (since 2012)
Ph.D. (Biological and Biomedical Sciences), Harvard University (2011)
Michael Chao Contact:
e-mail: mchao1@partners.org ( mchao1 null@null partners NULL.org)

Research Area:

DNA methylases were originally thought to be solely important for protecting the bacterial chromosome from digestion by cognate restriction endonucleases that target invading phage DNA. However, since the characterization of the ‘orphan’ methylase (those enzymes without an identifiable cognate restriction enzyme) dam of E. coli, it has become clear that DNA methylation regulates additional fundamental processes in prokaryotes. These methylation events produce epigenetic changes that are required for the basic biology and virulence of many important pathogens. Interestingly, DNA modification has not been characterized in the human pathogen, Vibrio cholerae, which causes the epidemic disease, cholera. In V. cholerae, the dam homolog is essential for correct replication and regulation of chromosomal replication, but there are two other orphan methylases (one adenine and one cytosine) and one restriction modification associated methylase that are dispensable for in vitro growth. I am currently investigating how these specific DNA methylases contribute to overall function and pathogenesis of V. cholerae, with specific focus on understanding how these modification events affect downstream regulatory processes. To do this, I am utilizing high throughput genomic and RNA sequencing to identify functional targets of each DNA methylase, as well as characterize the epigenetic alterations that occur during host infection.