The regulation of gene expression is a fundamental process in any organism, underlying its response to the environment and playing a major role in the development of disease. Until recently, our understanding of these processes has been focussed on the direct action of transcription factors at gene promoters and the networks of transcription factors that form complex biological circuits. Over the years, however, evidence has emerged supporting a picture of greater complexity with fascinating novel mechanisms of gene regulation; in particular, those involving antisense transcription and chromatin modifications.
We use mathematical modelling to elucidate the mechanistic basis of these novel mechanisms of gene regulation. Mathematical models allow for the investigation of postulated 'microscopic' mechanisms, which are usually inaccessible to direct experimentation, by the identification of the corresponding 'macroscopic' behaviours, which generally are accessible.
We work closely with experimental groups in an ongoing cycle of discovery: models developed from existing data are used to make predictions to be tested by new experiments which are then used to refine the models.