Lourdes Serrano
Lourdes Serrano
Assistant Research Professor
(732) 445-1027 ext. 40032
(732) 445-1147
LSB 126
Life Sciences Building Rutgers University 145 Bevier Road Piscataway, NJ, 08854


The fundamental nuclear processes of transcription, replication and DNA repair are spatially compartmentalized within the nucleus. Chromatin is organized at the macroscopic level into functional domains, and individual chromosomes occupy distinct, non-overlapping territories even in interphase cells. The spatial arrangement of these territories and sub-chromosomal regions is still unclear. Individual chromatin domains, marked with distinctive patterns of epigenetic modifications, are formed by genes that share the same transcriptional status. This has led to the notion that nuclear architecture might constitute a higher-order regulation of genome function. The nature and the mechanism by which specialized genomic sequences define the higher order functional organization of the nucleus is an emerging challenge in the post-genomic era.

My research interests focus on deciphering the role of nuclear architecture and chromatin organization in different aspects of genome regulation. Nuclear architecture brings together several topics, including genome instability, DNA repair, cell differentiation, development, aging and cancer. Our experimental approaches are based on the combination of genetics, molecular and cellular biology, and three-dimensional imaging quantitative analysis. Data from biochemical studies and image analysis are used for mathematical modeling in a continuous feedback between the different disciplines. I am involved in three distinct but interconnected research projects:

1. We investigate how nuclear architecture modulates mutation type and rate, with specific emphasis on mitotic recombination, a process that frequently leads to loss of genetic heterozygosity and the development of tumors. We find variable but distinct rates of mitotic recombination in different types of cells, including embryonic stem cells, which may explain why certain cells and developmental stages are susceptible to different mutagens and develop specific cancers.

2. We investigate the mechanism by which epigenetic modifiers of gene expression, histone post-translational modifications and DNA methylation, affect the maintenance of genomic integrity. Specifically, we investigate how changes in chromatin functional domains determine the cellular response to DNA damage. Our focus is to elucidate how DNA repair mechanisms change through development as cells proliferate and differentiate in parallel with distinctive epigenetic reprogramming.

3. We use Hox gene cluster organization as a model to investigate the role that higher-order chromatin organization plays in the regulation of gene expression during stem cell progression and organismal development. Understanding the role of this important element of epigenetic regulation as stem cells pass through their various ontogenetic intermediates will provide information on cell specification, such as pluripotency or stemness, which will eventually allow therapeutic intervention in the process.


A. Vaquero, M. Scher, H. Erdjument-Bromage, P. Tempst, L. Serrano and D. Reinberg. SirT1 Regulates the Histone Lysine Methylase Activity of Suv39h1 During Facultative Heterochromatin Formation. Nature. Nov 15; 450(7168):440-4, 2007.

A. Vaquero, M.B. Scher, D. H. Lee, A. Sutton, H. Cheng, F.W. Alt, L. Serrano, R. Sternglanz and D. Reinberg. SirT2 is a histone deacetylase with preference for histone H4 Lys 16 during mitosis. Genes & Development, 20:1256-1261, 2006.

J.L.Bella, L. Serrano, J. Orellana and P.L. Mason. The origin of the Chorthippus parallelus hybrid zone: chromosomal evidence of multiple refugia for Iberian populations. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Mar; 20(2):568-76, 2007.

J.L. Fiori, P.C. Billings, L.Serrano de la Peña, F. S. Kaplan and E. M. Shore. Dysregulation of the BMP-p38 MAPK signaling pathway in cells from patients with Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP). Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, Jun; 21(6):902-9, 2006.

L.S. De la Peña, P.C. Billings, J. Ahn, E.M. Shore, F.S. Kaplan. Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), a disorder of ectopic osteogenesis, misregulates cell surface expression and trafficking of BMPRIA. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, Jul; 20(7):1168-76, 2005.

J. Ahn, L. Serrano de la Peña, E.M. Shore, F.S. Kaplan. BMP-antagonist response in a genetic disorder of progressive heterotopic skeletogenesis. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 85(4): 667-74, 2003.

B. Pons-Estel, C. Gimenez, M. Sacnun, S. Gentiletti, C. Battagliotti, A. Reginato, L. Serrano de la Peña and C.J. Williams. Familial Osteoarthritis and Milwaukee Shoulder associated with calcium pyrophosphate and apatite crystal deposition. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 27(2): 471-80, 2000.

K. Rojas, L. Serrano de la Peña, T. Gallardo, A. Simmons, K. Nyce, R. McGrath, E. Considine, A.J. Vasco, E. Peterson, D. Grady, R. Cox, L.J. Andrew, M. Lovett, J. Overhausen & C.J. Williams. Physical map and characterization of transcripts in the candidate interval for familial Chondrocalcinosis at chromosome 5p15.1. Genomics, 62:177-183, 1999.

L.J. Andrew, V. Brancolini, L. Serrano de la Peña, M. Devoto, F. Caeiro, R. Marchegiani, A. Reginato, A. Gaucher, P. Netter, P. Gillet D. Loeuille, D.J. Prockop, A. Carr, B.F. Wordworth, M.Lathrop, S. Butcher, E. Considine, K. Everts, A. Nicod, S. Walsh and C.J. Williams. Refinement of the chromosome 5p locus for Familial Calcium Pyrophosphate Dihydrate Deposition Disease. American Journal of Human Genetics, 64:136-145, 1999.

J. L. Pablos, P.E. Carreira, L. Serrano, P. Del Castillo and J.J. Gomez-Reino. Apoptosis and proliferation of fibroblast during postnatal skin development and Scleroderma in the Tight Skin Mouse. Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry, 45: 711-719, 1997.

L. Serrano, C. García de la Vega, J.L. Bella, C. López-Fernández, G.M. Hewitt and J. Gosálvez. A hybrid zone of Chorthippus parallelus : chromosome variants through a contact zone. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 9:173-184, 1996.

J.L. Bella, L. Serrano, G.M. Hewitt and J. Gosálvez . Heterochromatin heterogeneity and rapid divergence of the sex chromosomes in Chorthippus parallelus parallelus and Chorthippus parallelus erythropus (Orthoptera). Genome, 36: 542-547, 1993.

C. Ferris, J.M. Rubio, L. Serrano, J. Gosálvez and G.M. Hewitt. One way introgression of a subspecific sex chromosome marker in a hybrid zone. Heredity, 71: 119-129, 1993.