- Assistant Professor, Epigenetics
- Kleberg 442B
- Undergraduate Education
- B.A. Biology, Augustana University
- Graduate Education
- M.S. Genetics, Iowa State University
- Ph.D. Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Kansas Medical Center
- Postdoctoral Training, Epigenetics Institute, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Lacey Luense is an Assistant Professor and a member of the graduate faculty in the Department of Animal Science. She grew up in LeMars, IA and received a B.A in Biology at Augustana University, in Sioux Falls, SD. She then received a M.S in Genetics at Iowa State University before receiving her Ph.D in Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Dr. Luense then conducted her postdoctoral training in the Epigenetics Institute and Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.
Dr. Luense’s research focus is understating the epigenetic regulation of the paternal genome, how it directly affects male fertility, and how it ultimately influences embryonic development and developmental programming. The paternal epigenome is likely to be a key mechanistic driver of male infertility, largely due to the unique chromatin organization of mammalian sperm that is achieved by replacing over 90% of nucleosomes (composed of histone proteins) with protamines. During this process the male germ cell undergoes histone hyperacetylation to “loosen” and open the chromatin structure leading to subsequent eviction of nucleosomes. The location of retained nucleosomes in sperm remains unclear, with several genomic sequencing studies pointing to different locations. Importantly, abnormal nucleosome retention and protamine insufficiency are correlated with male infertility, although the underlying mechanism – whether this is due to excess histones or aberrantly packaged DNA – has not yet been elucidated. Thus, in spite of its likely profound importance, the requirement and role of specific nucleosome retention is still poorly understood and remains to be explicitly tested.
Dr. Luense’s professional memberships include the Society for the Study of Reproduction.