Luke E. Berchowitz, PhD
Assistant Professor Genetics and Development Department

Address: Hammer Building 701 West 168th Street- Room 1520 New York NY 10032


Education and Training:
Biology 2010-2016, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Molecular Biology 2003-2009, University of North Carolina
Integrative and Medical Biology 1998-2002, Beloit College
bullet  Department of Genetics and Development
Training Activities:
Research Summary:
(800 words, max)
My research is focused on understanding formation, function, and clearance of amyloid-like assemblies. I am working on deciphering the mechanisms by which cells use these assemblies to govern RNA-related biological processes.
Current Research:
The goals of my research program are to determine the molecular mechanisms underlying formation, function, and clearance of amyloid-like structures. Additionally, I plan to develop yeast meiosis as a tool for screening for anti-amyloid compounds. Amyloids are fibrous protein deposits best known for their association with a variety of human neurodegenerative diseases. Although amyloids have been predominantly understood in pathological contexts as toxic protein deposits and/or metabolic byproducts, amyloid-like structures are beginning to be recognized as having critical physiological functions. I previously found that yeast cells assemble proteins into structures that share many properties of amyloid as an essential feature of reproductive cell division (i.e. meiosis). Due to the biochemical similarity these structures have with disease-related amyloid they are termed ‘amyloid-like.’
Research in my lab in part focuses on understanding yeast’s remarkable ability to efficiently regulate both assembly and clearance of amyloid-like structures during meiosis. Yeast meiosis is unique as an experimental system in that one can grow cultures of cells that synchronously produce and clear amyloid-like structures in coordination with developmental cues. Each finding provides the potential lead to a pathway or gene that could be a therapeutic target. Furthermore, yeast cells build amyloid-like structures to serve a critical function, which is to repress translation of critical mRNA transcripts. I use a combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches to decipher the mechanisms by which these repressor complexes bind and repress mRNA. I will further investigate my lab’s discoveries from yeast in animal and cell culture disease models with the goal of ultimately translating our findings into human health benefits.
(6 max)
1. Berchowitz, LE, Kabachinski G, Walker MR, Carlile TM, Gilbert WV, Schwartz TU, Amon A. : (2015) Regulated formation of an amyloid-like translational repressor governs gametogenesis .  Cell   163(2): 406-418

2. Berchowitz LE, Gajadhar A, van Werven FJ, De Rosa AA, Samoylova ML, Brar GA, Xu Y, Xiao C, Futcher B, Weissman JS, White F, Amon A.
: (2013) A developmentally-regulated translational control pathway establishes the meiotic chromosome segregation pattern .  Genes and Development  27(19): 2147-2163

3. Berchowitz LE, Hanlon SE, Lieb JD, Copenhaver GP.
: (2009) A positive but complex association between meiotic double-strand break hotspots and open chromatin in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
.  Genome Research  19(12): 2245-57

4. Berchowitz LE, Copenhaver GP.: (2008) Fluorescent Arabidopsis tetrads: A visual assay for quickly developing large crossover and crossover interference datasets
.  Nature Protocols  3(1):  41-50*

5. Berchowitz LE, Francis KE, Bey AL, Copenhaver GP: (2007) The role of AtMUS81 in interference-insensitive crossovers in A. thaliana.  PLoS Genetics  3(8): e132

6. Berchowitz LE, Copenhaver GP: (2010) Genetic interference: don't stand so close to me.  Current Genomics  11(2): 91-102

URL for lab page: