Judd Christopher Rice, PhD

Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine

Director, Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine Master's Degree Program

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Each human chromosome contains 50-250 x 10e6 base pairs of DNA that compacts into an orderly structure by interacting with chromosomal proteins. Together, the DNA and these chromosomal proteins are generically described as chromatin. In eukaryotic organisms, the ability to precisely regulate nuclear processes is hindered by the inherently repressive chromatin environment where DNA is tightly packaged with chromosomal proteins. The fundamental structural unit of chromatin is the nucleosome which consists of the core histone octamer (two each of histone proteins H2A, H2B, H3 and H4) and the associated 146 base pairs of DNA that wraps twice around them. The N-terminal ails of the histones protrude from the nucleosome to interact with the nuclear environment. The enzymatic addition or removal of various post-translational modifications on histones generates a histone code at specific genomic regions that directly function to regulate specific DNA-templated processes including transcription, replication, repair, recombination and chromosome structure. Importantly, the activities of chromatin-modifying proteins are frequently altered in many human pathologies including developmental and age-related diseases, such as cancer.

The overall goal of my lab is to elucidate the factors that establish and maintain the histone code and how their concerted functions regulate essential chromatin-dependent events including transcription, DNA replication and DNA repair. This is accomplished using a combination of conventional biochemical approaches and state-of-the-art technologies. Our long term goal is to translate these fundamental biological insights into novel epigenetic therapies for the treatment of human diseases.


  • The MMP-2 histone H3 N-terminal tail protease is selectively targeted to the transcription start sites of active genes Epigenetics Chromatin. 2023 05 10; 16(1):16. . View in PubMed
  • Effect of Periodized Resistance Training on Skeletal Muscle During Androgen Deprivation Therapy for Prostate Cancer: A Pilot Randomized Trial Integr Cancer Ther. 2021 Jan-Dec; 20:15347354211035442. . View in PubMed
  • MMP-2 is a novel histone H3 N-terminal protease necessary for myogenic gene activation Epigenetics Chromatin. 2021 05 17; 14(1):23. . View in PubMed
  • A pilot randomised controlled trial of a periodised resistance training and protein supplementation intervention in prostate cancer survivors on androgen deprivation therapy BMJ Open. 2017 Jul 10; 7(7):e016910. . View in PubMed
  • The SUV4-20 inhibitor A-196 verifies a role for epigenetics in genomic integrity Nat Chem Biol. 2017 03; 13(3):317-324. . View in PubMed
  • Acute Response of PGC-1a and IGF-1 Isoforms to Maximal Eccentric Exercise in Skeletal Muscle of Postmenopausal Women J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Apr; 30(4):1161-70. . View in PubMed
  • MMP-9 facilitates selective proteolysis of the histone H3 tail at genes necessary for proficient osteoclastogenesis Genes Dev. 2016 Jan 15; 30(2):208-19. . View in PubMed
  • Cooperation between SMYD3 and PC4 drives a distinct transcriptional program in cancer cells Nucleic Acids Res. 2015 Oct 15; 43(18):8868-83. . View in PubMed
  • Small-molecule inhibitors of SETD8 with cellular activity ACS Chem Biol. 2014 Nov 21; 9(11):2471-8. . View in PubMed
  • Bent bone dysplasia syndrome reveals nucleolar activity for FGFR2 in ribosomal DNA transcription Hum Mol Genet. 2014 Nov 01; 23(21):5659-71. . View in PubMed
  • Concerted activities of distinct H4K20 methyltransferases at DNA double-strand breaks regulate 53BP1 nucleation and NHEJ-directed repair Cell Rep. 2014 Jul 24; 8(2):430-8. . View in PubMed
  • Identification and characterization of functional risk variants for colorectal cancer mapping to chromosome 11q231. Hum Mol Genet. 2014 Apr 15; 23(8):2198-209. . View in PubMed
  • The PR-Set7 binding domain of Riz1 is required for the H4K20me1-H3K9me1 trans-tail ‘histone code’ and Riz1 tumor suppressor function Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 Apr; 42(6):3580-9. . View in PubMed
  • Proteomic and functional analyses reveal the role of chromatin reader SFMBT1 in regulating epigenetic silencing and the myogenic gene program J Biol Chem. 2013 Mar 01; 288(9):6238-47. . View in PubMed
  • Hormone therapy and maximal eccentric exercise alters myostatin-related gene expression in postmenopausal women J Strength Cond Res. 2012 May; 26(5):1374-82. . View in PubMed
  • Genome-wide evaluation of histone methylation changes associated with leaf senescence in Arabidopsis PLoS One. 2012; 7(3):e33151. . View in PubMed
  • The UBC9 E2 SUMO conjugating enzyme binds the PR-Set7 histone methyltransferase to facilitate target gene repression PLoS One. 2011; 6(7):e22785. . View in PubMed
  • A new regulator of the cell cycle: the PR-Set7 histone methyltransferase Cell Cycle. 2011 Jan 01; 10(1):68-72. . View in PubMed
  • Genome-wide epigenetic analysis of human pluripotent stem cells by ChIP and ChIP-Seq Methods Mol Biol. 2011; 767:253-67. . View in PubMed
  • Dynamic regulation of the PR-Set7 histone methyltransferase is required for normal cell cycle progression Genes Dev. 2010 Nov 15; 24(22):2531-42. . View in PubMed
  • Role for the nuclear receptor-binding SET domain protein 1 (NSD1) methyltransferase in coordinating lysine 36 methylation at histone 3 with RNA polymerase II function Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Sep 28; 107(39):16952-7. . View in PubMed
  • PR-Set7-mediated monomethylation of histone H4 lysine 20 at specific genomic regions induces transcriptional repression J Cell Biochem. 2010 Jun 01; 110(3):609-19. . View in PubMed
  • A histone methylation code for SV40 minichromosomes Cell Cycle. 2010 Apr 01; 9(7):1235-6. . View in PubMed
  • Hormone replacement therapy and messenger RNA expression of estrogen receptor coregulators after exercise in postmenopausal women Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Mar; 42(3):422-9. . View in PubMed
  • Exercise does not influence myostatin and follistatin messenger RNA expression in young women J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Feb; 24(2):522-30. . View in PubMed
  • Identification and characterization of posttranslational modification-specific binding proteins in vivo by mammalian tethered catalysis Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Sep 01; 106(35):14808-13. . View in PubMed
  • Catalytic function of the PR-Set7 histone H4 lysine 20 monomethyltransferase is essential for mitotic entry and genomic stability J Biol Chem. 2008 Jul 11; 283(28):19478-88. . View in PubMed
  • PR-Set7 establishes a repressive trans-tail histone code that regulates differentiation Mol Cell Biol. 2008 Jul; 28(14):4459-68. . View in PubMed
  • Ring around the genes Nat Cell Biol. 2007 Dec; 9(12):1343-4. . View in PubMed
  • The influence of eccentric exercise on mRNA expression of skeletal muscle regulators Eur J Appl Physiol. 2007 Nov; 101(4):473-80. . View in PubMed
  • Human SFMBT is a transcriptional repressor protein that selectively binds the N-terminal tail of histone H3 FEBS Lett. 2007 Jul 10; 581(17):3289-96. . View in PubMed
  • A trans-tail histone code defined by monomethylated H4 Lys-20 and H3 Lys-9 demarcates distinct regions of silent chromatin J Biol Chem. 2006 May 05; 281(18):12760-6. . View in PubMed
  • Regulation of heterochromatin by histone methylation and small RNAs Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2004 Jun; 16(3):230-8. . View in PubMed
  • Histone methyltransferases direct different degrees of methylation to define distinct chromatin domains Mol Cell. 2003 Dec; 12(6):1591-8. . View in PubMed
  • PR-Set7 is a nucleosome-specific methyltransferase that modifies lysine 20 of histone H4 and is associated with silent chromatin Mol Cell. 2002 Jun; 9(6):1201-13. . View in PubMed
  • Hormone therapy attenuates exercise-induced skeletal muscle damage in postmenopausal women J Appl Physiol (1985). 2009 Sep; 107(3):853-8. . View in PubMed
  • Influence of hormone replacement therapy on eccentric exercise induced myogenic gene expression in postmenopausal women J Appl Physiol (1985). 2009 Nov; 107(5):1381-8. . View in PubMed