You are here:

Bethany A. Buck-Koehntop

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Bethany Buck-Koehntop

B.S. University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point

Ph.D. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities



Bethany Buck-Koehntop's Lab Page

Bethany Buck-Koehntop's PubMed Literature Search

Biological Chemistry Program

Molecular Biology Program

Structural Biology and Cancer Epigenetics


The primary focus of our research is to utilize a multidisciplinary approach incorporating structural biology, biophysics, biochemistry, molecular biology and cellular biology to explore structure-function relationships in protein/protein and protein/nucleic acid interactions. We are particularly interested in applying these methodologies to investigate specialized transcription factors termed methyl-CpG DNA binding proteins that specifically recognize methylated DNA sequences.

In mammals, DNA methylation is the primary mode of long-term transcriptional gene silencing in normal cells. Profound alterations in genomic DNA methylation patterns have also been associated with abnormal proliferation of cells preceding cancer development. These findings have prompted an interest in discerning the regulatory mechanisms of DNA methylation in gene transcription by investigating the factors that are involved in modification, recognition, and translation of the methylation signal. Methyl-CpG binding proteins directly interpret the methylation signal leading to chromatin remodeling and gene silencing. To date, we know very little about the complex mechanisms by which these events occur.

Active areas of research in our laboratory include: 1) Utilizing a parallel in vitro biophysical/structural and in cell genomic approach to delineate the molecular mechanisms by which these proteins recognize their cognate DNA targets and regulate transcription in the cancerous state; 2) structural characterization of these MBP:DNA interactions to ascertain modes of  mCpG recognition for various MBPs; and 3) structural and biophysical characterizations of protein/protein interactions to begin evaluating how interpretation of the methylation signal triggers chromatin remodeling. Structure-function evaluation of MBPs with their interaction partners is critical for gaining mechanistic insight into the complex roles of these proteins in cancer epigenetics. It is anticipated that long-term this research will establish the basis for advancing therapeutic design directed toward key MBP regulatory networks/pathways.  



  1. Pozner, A., Hudson, N. O., Trewhell, J., Terooatea, T. W., Miller, S. A., Buck-Koehntop, B. A. (2018) The C-Terminal Zinc Fingers of ZBTB38 are Novel Selective Readers of DNA Methylation, J. Mol. Biol.430(3):258-271
  2. Pozner A, Terooatea TW, Buck-Koehntop BA (2016) Cell Specific Kaiso (ZBTB33) Regulation of Cell Cycle Through cyclin D1 and cyclin E1,J Biol Chem, 291(47):24538-24550
  3. Terooatea TW, Pozner A, Buck-Koehntop BA (2016) PAtCh-Cap: input strategy for improving analysis of ChIP-exo data sets and beyond. Nucleic Acids Res, 44(21):e159
  4. Buck-Koehntop BA, Defossez, P-A (2013) On How Mammalian Transcription Factors Recognize Methylated DNA. Epigenetics, 8(2):131-137
  5. Buck-Koehntop BA, Stanfield RL, Ekiert DC, Martinez-Yamout MA, Dyson HJ, Wilson IA, Wright PE (2012) Molecular Basis for Recognition of Methylated and Specific DNA Sequences by the Zinc Finger Kaiso. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA, 109(38):15229-15234
  6. Buck-Koehntop BA, Martinez-Yamout MA, Dyson HJ, Wright PE (2012) Kaiso uses all Three Zinc Fingers and Adjacent Sequence Motifs for High Affinity Binding to Sequence-specific and Methyl-CpG DNA Targets. FEBS Lett, 586:734-739

to page top

Last Updated: 3/13/19