| Chuan He|
| 25 February 1972 (age 43)
Guizhou, China (1972-02-25) |
The University of Chicago
University of Science and Technology of China (B.S.)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D.)
Epigenetics, DNA Methylation
Searle Scholar Award (2003)
Beckman Young Investigators Award (2005)
Chemical biology, Genetics
Gregory L. Verdine
Stephen J. Lippard
University of Chicago
Chuan He Wikipedia
Chuan He (simplified Chinese: 何川) is a Chinese-American chemical biologist, and is currently the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor and Director of the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics at The University of Chicago, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Chuan He is best known for his work in discovering and deciphering reversible RNA methylation in post-transcriptional gene expression regulation.
He attended the University of Science and Technology of China and graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry in 1994. After his Ph.D. training with Professor Stephen J. Lippard at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he worked with Professor Gregory L. Verdine as a Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. He started his independent career in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Chicago in 2002.
In 2010, He proposed that RNA modifications could be reversible and may have regulatory roles analogous to well-known reversible DNA and protein modifications. He and colleagues subsequently discovered the first RNA demethylase that oxidatively reverses N6-methyladenosine (m6A) methylation in mammalian messenger RNA (mRNA) in 2011. The existence of m6A in mRNA was discovered in 1974 in both eukaryotic and viral mRNAs; however, the biological significance and functional role were not known before He’s work. This methylation is the most abundant internal modification in mammalian mRNA. In 2012, two independent studies reported transcriptome-wide mapping of m6A in mammalian cells and tissues, revealing a unique distribution pattern. He and co-workers identified and characterized the direct reader proteins for m6A, which impact the stability and the translation efficiency of m6A-modified mRNA, elucidating functional roles of mRNA methylation. He’s group also purified the methyltransferase complex that mediates this methylation.
The He laboratory also studies DNA methylation. He invented TAB-seq, a method that can map 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) at base-resolution genome-wide, as well as hmC-Seal, a method that covalently labels 5hmC for its detection and profiling. Together with two other research groups, He and co-workers have revealed the DNA N6-methyldeoxyadenosine as a new methylation mark that could affect gene expression in eukaryotes.