friends of FSH Research


Identification of Chromatin Modifier Genes Important for DUX4 Silencing

Investigators: Daniel G Miller MD PhD and Galina N Filippova PhD

Friends of FSH Research and FSHD Canada Foundation are pleased to support the Daniel G. Miller MD PhD & Galina Filippova PhD project entitled "Identification of Chromatin Modifier Genes Important for DUX4 Silencing."

Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy is a dominantly inherited myopathy associated with chromatin relaxation of the D4Z4 macrosatellite array on chromosome 4. DUX4 is encoded within each unit of the D4Z4 array where it is normally transcriptionally silenced and packaged as constitutive heterochromatin. Truncation of the array to less than 11 D4Z4 units (FSHD1) or mutations in SMCHD1 (FSHD2) results in chromatin relaxation and a small percentage of cultured myoblasts from these individuals exhibit infrequent bursts of DUX4 expression. This proposal builds on the hypothesis that epigenetic modification of D4Z4 chromatin structure is an important strategy for disease treatment. Here we propose to construct a library of siRNA’s that target genes involved in chromatin modification and examine the effect of reducing transcript levels on DUX4 gene expression to determine integral components of the DUX4 transcriptional silencing machinery.

This grant was also supplemented with a capacity-building grant to hire techincal staff for the Miller Lab:


Ira Martopullo
Ira Martopullo


$42,160 for 1 year

Lay Abstract

Ira comes to the Miller Lab from the Kyba Lab at the University of Minnesota, where she most recently participated in a research project focused on understanding the molecular regulation of differentiation and self-renewal of skeletal muscle cells.

At the Miller Lab Ira will provide technical support for screening chromatin modifying genes that may affect DUX4 regulation. She will be constructing the siRNA library, preparing and characterizing cells for the screening platform, and overseeing the screening process. Once "hits" are identified she will evaluate gene targets identified in the screen to confirm their involvement in DUX4 transcriptional silencing and determine if multiple hits are part of common pathways.

Grant Information

Date awarded: Aug 09, 2013
End date: Aug 09, 2014
Amount awarded: $50,000

Daniel G Miller MD PhD
University of Washington

Galina N Filippova PhD
Research Scientist
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center