Featuring Sundeep Kalantry, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Human Genetics, University of Michigan Medical School.
By: Laura Burr, BRCF Marketing and Communications Associate

Sundeep Kalantry, Ph.D., has been selected as the winner of the 2018 Core Expert User Award. The annual Core Expert User Award is granted to a BRCF user who has gone above and beyond in usage, collaboration and/or partnership with BRCF Cores. The winner receives $500 in services from a BRCF Core of their choice. Dr. Kalantry will receive the award and present his research at the BRCF Technology & Services Showcase on Thursday, June 7th in Palmer Commons (Forum Hall) at 11:00 a.m.

Sundeep Kalantry 

Dr. Kalantry’s research interests focus on epigenetics and X chromosome inactivation. Several of the BRCF Cores have been instrumental to his group’s research, including the Transgenic Animal Model Core, Epigenomics Core, and DNA Sequencing Core. “Without these Cores, we would not have made anywhere near the progress we have,” Kalantry states. He has also worked closely with the Vector Core and Flow Cytometry Core.

X-inactivation is the process in female mammals where one copy of the two X chromosomes becomes silenced. This equalizes X chromosome gene products between females and males. Excessive X chromosome-derived gene products can have detrimental developmental consequences to the organism. Inactivation of an X-chromosome is vividly illustrated by the coat color of calico cats. The mosaic coat color of calico cats is due to the silencing of one or the other X-chromosome. Like the calico cat, all female mammals, including humans, are mosaics! Whereas some cells inactivate one X-chromosome, other cells inactivate the other X-chromosome.

Deciding which X chromosome becomes silenced is a random process, one that Dr. Kalantry seeks to further understand. “Because the sequences are identical or nearly identical, the decision to inactivate one of the two Xs is not DNA-based, but based epigenetically. That is what fascinates us—how does a cell decide and distinguish two equivalent chromosomes in such a way?” he explains.

The Epigenomics Core has been assisting Kalantry’s group in understanding the process of histone modifications and its role in X-inactivation in the mouse. Kalantry’s lab is additionally investigating X-inactivation patterns in rats. The mice, as well as rats, were either generated or obtained through Dr. Thom Saunders and the Transgenic Core. Kalantry’s group seeks to use various models in order to make evolutionary comparisons across different organisms (mice, rats, and humans) allowing them to better understand the process.

An active area of research in Kalantry’s lab involves Rett’s Syndrome, a rare neurodevelopmental disorder that affects girls and is caused by a mutation in the MECP2 gene on the X chromosome. MECP2 is involved in transcriptional repression of other genes. Individuals with this disorder typically have a shortened life span. Kalantry hopes that elucidating the X-inactivation process will allow for development of therapies for such X-linked genetic disorders.

So far, their findings using both mice and rat embryos generated by the Transgenic Core have been very exciting and are in the process of being published.

Learn more about Sundeep’s research on his website and at his presentation on June 7th!