Faculty » Research Information

Jeffrey Han

Jeffrey Han, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Tulane University School of Medicine
1430 Tulane Ave., #8643
New Orleans, LA 70112

Research Interests:   Molecular and Cell Biology of Transposition, DNA Rearrangements and Genome Instability, Transposition in Human Disease and Development 

Summary:  The human genome is infested with hundreds of thousands of copies of retrotransposons called Long Interspersed Nuclear Elements (LINEs). The currently active family of these elements is called LINE-1 (L1). The proteins encoded by L1s are responsible for all transposition in humans, and have generated over one-third of the human genome. The functional consequences of retrotransposition are unclear. However, recent provocative studies have suggested that uncontrolled retrotransposition can lead to infertility. Somatic retrotransposition events have also been associated with cancer and neurogenesis. 

Using a strong foundation of molecular biology, genetics, and cell biology, we seek to understand how LINE elements replicate and interact with our cells. To this end, we utilize both human tissue culture and a budding yeast model for L1 retrotransposition. We also seek to develop novel small molecules to inhibit mammalian retrotransposition. Ultimately, we aim to examine the phenotype of eliminating or enhancing L1 activity in mice or humans, globally or in a tissue specific manner. Currently we can only speculate as to the consequences of modifying L1 activity in mice or humans, but we might be able to manipulate fertility, genome stability, and possibly neural development. 

Representative publications: 

Han, J.S., Szak, S.T., and Boeke, J.D. Transcriptional disruption by the L1 retrotransposon and implications for mammalian transcriptomes. Nature (2004) 20, 268-274. 

Han, J.S., and Boeke, J.D. A highly active synthetic mammalian retrotransposon. Nature (2004) 20, 314-318.

Han, J.S., and Boeke, J.D. LINE-1 retrotransposons: modulators of quantity and quality of mammalian gene expression? Bioessays (2005) 27, 775-784.  

Wheelan, S.J., Aizawa, Y., Han, J.S., and Boeke, J.D. Gene-breaking: a new paradigm for human retrotransposon-mediated gene evolution. Genome Research (2005) 15, 1073-1078. 

An, W., Han, J.S., Wheelan, S.J., Davis, E.S., Coombes, C.E., Ye, P., Triplett, C., and Boeke, J.D. Active retrotransposition by a synthetic L1 element in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA (2006) 103,18662-18667. 

Dong, C, Poulter, R.T., Han, J.S. LINE-like Retrotransposition in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Genetics (2009) 181, 301-311.

Han, J.S. Non-LTR terminal repeat (non-LTR) retrotransposons: mechanisms, recent developments, and unanswered questions. Mob DNA (2010) 1:15. 

An, W., Dai, L., Niewiadomska, A.M., Yetil, A., O’Donnell, K.A., Han, J.S., and Boeke, J.D. Characterization of a synthetic human LINE-1 retrotransposons ORFeus-Hs. Mob DNA (2011) 2:2. 

Han, J.S., and Shao, S. Circular retrotransposition products generated by a LINE retrotransposon. Nucleic Acids Research (2012) 40:10866.

1430 Tulane Ave, New Orleans, LA 70112