Adele Murrell

Deputy Head of Department Biology and Biochemistry, Prof

  • 4 SOUTH 0.56

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Personal profile

Research interests

Current Research

Higher-order-chromatin-structure and epigenetic modifications to DNA and histones shape the genome within the nucleus. We are investigating how tumorigenesis and metastasis disrupt genome organisation and how this leads to the aberrant expression of several genes related to cancer cell survival.

Genomic Imprinting as a Model Epigenetic System

The phenomenon of genomic imprinting is an ideal model-system for functional epigenetic analysis. Imprinted genes are a network of epigenetically regulated genes involved in foetal growth. They are expressed from one allele in a parent-of-origin specific manner and are controlled by cooperating epigenetic mechanisms that are widely applicable to the understanding of genome organisation and gene expression in general. In addition to DNA methylation changes, these mechanisms include transcriptional interference and/ or recruitment of chromatin modifiers by noncoding RNAs and partitioning the genome into looping domain structures bordered by CTCF and cohesin.

Long Range Epigenetic Silencing in Cancer

In cancer several contiguous genes along a chromosome region can be simultaneously silenced. This is known as long range epigenetic silencing (LRES). Our goal is to understand how LRES originates and spreads. It is likely that this process employs similar mechanisms to genomic imprinting. We are studying an LRES region that contains the imprinted tumour suppressor gene DIRAS3 and an associated long non coding RNA, both of which are silenced in multiple cancers including breast and prostate cancer.

Epigenetic Reprogramming during metastasis

When cells metastasise from a primary cancer site to a new site, they undergo epigenetic reprogramming events that enable them to migrate, infiltrate, adapt and colonise a new environment. Our future goal is to identify the triggers of these epigenetic changes with a view to prevent metastasis. At present we are looking at colon cancer and liver metastasis and focusing on changes in DNA methylation and its demethylation intermediates such as 5-hydroxymethylcytosine.


  • QH Natural history
  • QH426 Genetics
  • epigenetics genomic imprinting
  • DNA methylation 5-hydroxymethylation
  • chromatin structure
  • cell migration
  • R Medicine › RB Pathology
  • Breast cancer; Colon Cancer
  • Metastasis
  • pregnancy and breast cancer


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