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Charles Danko, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences

How do cells read and interpret DNA to regulate life?

Dr. Charles Danko is interested in how DNA, the basic blueprints for all living things, is interpreted by cells to produce living, breathing organisms. He also explores how diseases like cancer change these interpretations and impact health.

  • Understanding how evolution determines human and animal differences. The genes of humans, chimps, rhesus macaques, mice, and rats aren’t all that different, considering how diverse these creatures are. Danko and his collaborators are studying the roles of “gene enhancers” in evolution, small parts of the genome that can ramp-up or -down the number of times a gene is transcribed into RNA and ultimately translated into the proteins that make up the functional differences between the animals.
  • How cancer cells use genes differently. Glioblastoma cancer cells make up many serious brain tumors. To determine how to specifically target those cancers Danko and his team have studied the ways these cells turn their genetic instructions into action, by comparison with normal, healthy cells. They have identified the several proteins called “transcription factors” that drive the out-of-control growth of cancer cells, information that can be used to design cancer therapies specific to each type of cell and its associated cancers.


Links and abstracts for all of Dr. Danko's publications can be found at NCBI.

  1. Danko, CG; Wang, Z; Rice, EJ; Chu, T; Martins, AL; Tait Wojno, ED; Lis, JT; Kraus, LW; Siepel, A. (2016). Natural Selection has Shaped Coding and Non-coding Transcription in Primate CD4+ T-cells. bioR×iv, doi: 10.1101/083212

  2. Wang, Z; Martins, AL; Danko, CG. (2016). RTFBSDB: an integrated framework for transcription factor binding site analysis. Bioinformatics, 32(19), 3024-3026.

  3. Andersson, R; Sandelin, A; Danko, CG. (2015). A unified architecture of transcriptional regulatory elements. CellPress, 31(8), 426-433.

  4. Danko, CG; Hyland, SL; Core, LJ; Martins, AL; Waters, CT; Lee, HW; Cheung, VG; Kraus, WL; Lis, JT; Siepel, A. (2015). Identification of active transcriptional regulatory elements with GRO-seq. Nature Methods, 12(5), 433-438.

  5. Core, LJ; Martins, AL; Danko, CG; Waters, C; Siepel, A; Lis, JT. (2014). Analysis of nascent RNA identifies a unified architecture of initiation regions at mammalian promoters and enhancers. Nature Genetics, 46(12), 1311–1320.

  6. Danko, CG; Hah, N; Luo, X; Martins, AL; Core, L; Lis, JT; Siepel, A; Kraus, WL. (2013). Signaling Pathways Differentially Affect RNA Polymerase II Initiation, Pausing, and Elongation Rate in Cells. Molecular Cell, 50(2), 12-222.

  7. Hah, N; Danko, CG; Core, L; Waterfall, JJ; Siepel, A; Lis, JT; Kraus, L. (2011). A Rapid, Extensive, and Transient Transcriptional Response to Estrogen Signaling in Breast Cancer Cells. Cell, 145(4), 622-34.