Ph.D., 1982, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Research Interests
Research in my lab concerns four aspects of transcriptional regulation: histone biotinylation and gene expression; transcriptional activation and chromatin remodeling; RNA polymerase elongation factors and gene regulation; and heterochromatin and gene regulation. We use the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model to study mechanisms of gene activation and gene silencing.
Recent Publications
  • Direct-to-consumer genomics: harmful or empowering?
    Eissenberg JC. Mo Med. (2017) 114:26-32.
  • Chromo domain proteins.
    Eissenberg JC. In “Chromatin Signaling and Diseases” (2016) Binda O and Fernandez-Zapico ME, eds. (Elsevier), pp. 113-125.
  • More than meets the eye: eye color and alcoholism.
    Eissenberg JC. Mo Med. (2016) 113:98-103.
  • Chapter 9: Medical Epigenetics and Twins.
    Eissenberg JC. in "Medical Epigenetics". (2016) Tollefsbol T, ed. (Elsevier), pp. 147-158.
  • Tying up loose ends: telomeres, genomic instability and lamins.
    Gonzalo S, Eissenberg JC. Curr Op Genet Dev. (2016) 37:109-118.
Significant Publications as an Independent Investigator

Mutation in a heterochromatin-specific chromosomal protein is associated with suppression of position-effect variegation in Drosophila melanogaster.

Joel C. Eissenberg, Tharappel C. James, Dawn M. Foster-Hartnett, Thomas Hartnett, Vivian Ngan, and Sarah C.R. Elgin.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 87(24):9923-9927, 1990 (PMID 2124708).

This paper provided the first link between Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1) and gene silencing by heterochromatic position-effect gene silencing. The HP1 protein family is conserved from yeast to humans. This paper was a landmark in our understanding of how distinct forms of chromatin are organized in eukaryotes. It currently has 406 citations on Web of Science.

Genomic map of the HP-1 gene showing the relative annealing positions of synthetic oligonucleotides used in these studies.

Heterochromatin protein 1 is required for the normal expression of two heterochromatin genes in Drosophila.

Brett Y. Lu, Peter C.R. Emtage, Brenda J. Duyf, Arthur J. Hilliker, and Joel C. Eissenberg.

Genetics. 155(2):699-708, 2000 (PMID 10835392).

This paper was the first to show that HP1, a protein previously associated with silencing of euchromatic genes by heterochromatin, is required for the normal expression of genes in heterochromatin. This research provided the genetic foundation for the current model that HP1 family proteins are chromatin organizing proteins, not silencing proteins. It currently has 114 citations on Web of Science.

Loss of heterochromatic silencing of a euchromatic gene in Su(var)2-5 mutant larvae.

dELL, an essential RNA polymerase II elongation factor with a general role in development.

Joel C. Eissenberg, Jiyan Ma, Mark A. Gerber, Alan Christensen, James A. Kennison, and Ali Shilatifard.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 99(15):9894-9899, 2002. (12096188).

This paper was the first to describe the genetics of the RNA Polymerase II elongation factor, ELL. The ELL protein family is conserved from yeast to humans, and is implicated in leukemia and in HIV latency. It currently has 47 citations on Web of Science.

Models of ELL function in vivo.