Michael Bustin, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Basic Research Laboratory


Building 37, Room 3122
Bethesda, MD 20892-4255



Research Topics

Chromosomal Proteins and Chromatin Function

Precise and specific interactions between chromosomal proteins and the chromatin fiber play a key role in epigenetic regulation, transcription, replication and DNA repair and therefore affect the orderly progression of biological processes such as development and differentiation. Numerous diseases, including cancer, are associated with changes in chromatin structure and function. The research aim of the Protein Section is to study the molecular mechanisms whereby nuclear proteins affect the structure and function of chromatin and play a role in establishing the cellular phenotype. The focus is on architectural proteins such as HMGN, the linker histone H1 and additional members of the high mobility group (HMG) protein family, which have been shown to affect the structure and function of chromatin and play a role in development and disease.

The laboratory employs a multidisciplinary approach, including analysis of transgenic and knock-out mice, and methodologies used in molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology and immunochemistry, to study:

1. Molecular mechanisms whereby chromosomal proteins modulate gene expression from chromatin.

2. Mechanisms whereby HMGN chromosomal proteins affect the cellular phenotype and modulate embryonic differentiation.

3. The role of HMGN chromosomal proteins in modulating DNA repair processes.

4. The role of architectural chromatin binding proteins in epigenetic regulation.

5. Global organization of architectural proteins in the nucleus and in chromatin and their role in chromatin dynamics.

For more details about our research program and representative results, see HMG Proteins and Gallery.


Michael Bustin received his Ph.D. from University at California, Berkeley and did postdoctoral work in the area of protein chemistry, in the laboratory of Drs. S. Moore and W. Stein at the Rockefeller University in New York, and in the area of immunochemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, where he produced antibodies to histones and pioneered their use for studies on chromatin structure and function. His research interests center on the role of chromosomal proteins in chromatin function, gene expression, development and cancer.

Selected Publications

  1. Bustin M, Misteli T. Nongenetic functions of the genome. Science. 2016;352(6286):aad6933.
  2. Deng T, Zhu ZI, Zhang S, Leng F, Cherukuri S, Hansen L, Mariño-Ramírez L, Meshorer E, Landsman D, Bustin M. HMGN1 modulates nucleosome occupancy and DNase I hypersensitivity at the CpG island promoters of embryonic stem cells. Mol Cell Biol. 2013;33(16):3377-89.
  3. Rochman M, Postnikov Y, Correll S, Malicet C, Wincovitch S, Karpova TS, McNally JG, Wu X, Bubunenko NA, Grigoryev S, Bustin M. The interaction of NSBP1/HMGN5 with nucleosomes in euchromatin counteracts linker histone-mediated chromatin compaction and modulates transcription. Mol Cell. 2009;35(5):642-56.
  4. Catez F, Ueda T, Bustin M. Determinants of histone H1 mobility and chromatin binding in living cells. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2006;13(4):305-10.
  5. Pash J, Popescu N, Matocha M, Rapoport S, Bustin M. Chromosomal protein HMG-14 gene maps to the Down syndrome region of human chromosome 21 and is overexpressed in mouse trisomy 16. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990;87(10):3836-40.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, August 16, 2022