Chris T. Hittinger, Ph.D.

Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Department of Genetics
Institution
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Address
425-G Henry Mall
2434 Genetics/Biotechnology Center
City, State, Zip
Madison, WI 53706
Phone
(608) 890-2586
E-mail
cthittinger[at]wisc.edu
Website
http://hittinger.genetics.wisc.edu/
Research Field
Evolutionary Biology
Award Year
2014

Research

My lab explores how certain yeasts alter their metabolism to use fermentation in order to produce energy. In the presence of oxygen, most cells rely on the process of cellular respiration to burn sugars and other food molecules to produce large amounts of energy. But some yeasts—as well as many cancer cells—prefer to break down sugars by fermentation, a process that yields less energy but that may allow the cells to quickly grab and process enough nutrients to “outcompete” their more thrifty rivals. Now, using a combination of techniques in molecular genetics and genome analysis, we will compare the genomes of 100 different yeast species to determine which genes or gene networks are activated in the organisms that favor fermentation. We will test how the function and regulation of those genes have changed as these yeast species diverged from each other over the course of evolution. These investigations will bolster our understanding of how gene networks evolve and could lead to new therapies to target and eradicate cancer cells that use fermentation for the energy they need to survive.