Research technicians Jillian Frank and Grace Shelby join our team. Welcome to the lab! (October 2022)

A one-page "SnapShot" that summarizes Mediator structure and function is published in Cell, part of an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Shraddha Nayak and Dr. Janet Iwasa (September 2022).

Completing a years-long collaboration with the Ranish and Kaplan labs, we publish an article in JBC that identifies key residues within the p52 subunit that control TFIIH function at transcription start sites in human and yeast cells (August 2022).

Review article describing the best chemical inhibitors for transcription-associated kinases (CDK7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 19) is published in Curr Opin Chem Biol, written with Kevin Clopper. (July 2022)

Lab Manager Dr. Avni Awani joins the group.  Welcome! (June 2022)

PhD student Jessica Rodino joins the lab.  Welcome Jessica! (May 2022)

Undergraduate Xander Woyciehowsky defends his honors thesis and graduates with summa cum laude honors. Great job, Xander! (May 2022)

PhD student Ariel Eraso is awarded an NSF graduate research fellowship.  Congratulations Ariel! (April 2022)

Our "p53 peptide" paper is published in Cell Reports.  This project implemented rational design of stapled peptides that selectively block p53 function in human cancer cells.  The peptides work not by targeting p53 directly, but rather by blocking the p53-Mediator interaction.  Because different transcription factors target different Mediator subunits, this innovative strategy could be broadly applied to selectively alter gene expression programs.  Collaborative effort with the Schepartz lab at UC-Berkeley and the Dowell lab at UC-Boulder. (April 2022)

Olivia Luyties publishes a review article in TiBS, describing the Mediator kinase module, and how it connects cell signaling with transcription (March, 2022).

Jenna Rimel defends her PhD thesis; congratulations Dr. Rimel! (January 2022)

Review article published as part of a Special Issue in JMB.  The article describes liquid-liquid phase separation (a.k.a. molecular condensates) and how it may help regulate pol II transcription in human cells. (October 2021)

September 2021: a two-day lab retreat in Granby, Colorado, near Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Taatjes Lab RMNP

Postdoc William Richter joins the lab. (August 2021)

Publication in PLoS Biology (Levandowski et al.) that defines how a naturally occurring p53 isoform, called ∆40p53, alters WTp53 function.  Using a combination of genome-editing, transcriptomics, ChIP-seq, and metabolomics, we establish that ∆40p53:WTp53 tetramers fail to induce eRNA transcription, and this yields defects in mRNA biogenesis.  Under stress response conditions, ∆40p53 tempers WTp53 activity, which allows other stimulus-specific TFs (i.e. not p53) to drive the transcriptional responses. (August 2021)

News & Views article published in NSMB that summarizes the remarkable recent cryoEM structures of the human PIC, including TFIID and Mediator.  (June 2021)

Publication in Communications Biology (Rubin et al.) that describes TFEA, a computational tool can identify hundreds of active or repressed DNA-binding transcription factors in a given cell population at a given point in time, in a single experiment.  This powerful methodology builds upon the MD Score protocol.  Both methods were developed in the Dowell lab at UC-Boulder. (June 2021)

PhD students Ariel Eraso and Michael Nagel join the lab.  (May 2021)

Lab picnic in a Boulder park, still socially distanced (April 2021). 

Undergraduate Kayla Molison is named a Beckman Scholar, funded by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.  Congratulations Kayla! (April 2021)

PhD student Megan Palacio is awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.  Nice going Meg! (March 2021)

Publication in JMB that further defined mechanistic distinctions between human and yeast TFIIH.  This was a collaboration led by the Galburt lab (WashU), with key contributions from the Hahn lab and the Tsutakawa lab.  Using biochemical and biophysical methods, we showed that altered transcription start site usage in yeast vs. humans is linked to altered TFIIH dsDNA translocase processivity. Only yeast Ssl2 is processive (human XPB is not) and Ssl2 requires the TFIIH kinase module for activation. (January 2021)

PhD student Kira Cozzolino joins the lab.  Welcome Kira! (January 2021)

Media coverage of Rimel et al. paper from Genes & Development (November 2020).

Publication in Genes & Development (Rimel et al.) that uncovers new mechanisms for CDK7 function and regulation within TFIIH.  The project involved next-generation inhibitors (in collaboration with Syros Pharmaceuticals), transcriptomics, biochemical assays and large-scale phosphoproteomics. (October 2020) 

Olivia Luyties is awarded a pre-doctoral F31 fellowship from the NCI, for her studies on CDK7 and CDK9.  Congratulations Olivia! (August 2020)

The Young lab (MIT) and colleagues published a study in Science that shows that clinically relevant drugs selectively partition in nuclear condensates, including condensates formed by the Mediator complex.  This implicates Mediator as a promising therapeutic target and suggests that drug partitioning behaviors impact their clinical efficacy (June 2020).

Article published in Molecular Cell (Fant et al.) that used biochemical reconstitution and transcriptomics to discover that TFIID is required to establish pol II promoter-proximal pausing (May 2020).

Jonathan Rubin defends his PhD thesis.  Congratulations Dr. Rubin! (May 2020)

Megan Palacio joins our group as a PhD student.  Welcome to the lab Meg! (May 2020)

Undergraduates John Moir and Robert Meushaw each graduate with summa cum laude honors based upon their stellar academic performance and substantial research contributions.  Congratulations!

Review article on the structure and mechanism of the pol II transcription machinery published in Genes & Development (April, 2020).

Congratulations to Dr. Cecilia Levandowski, who successfully defended her PhD thesis (March 2020). Dr. Levandowski now returns to medical school (UC Anschutz School of Medicine) to complete her MD.

Jenna Rimel awarded an NCI pre-doctoral fellowship (F31) to pursue her studies on TFIIH and CDK7.  Congratulations Jenna! (March 2020)

Keystone Symposium on "Gene Regulation: from mechanisms to disease" in Keystone, CO (January, 2020).

Collaborating on studies completed by the Young lab (MIT), published in Nature (August, 2019) and Molecular Cell (December 2019), we further define the phase separation behavior of Mediator, and how it selectively partitions in molecular condensates that contain pol II or signaling factors that regulate stimulus-specific TFs.

Cecie presents her work on the naturally occurring D40p53 isoform at two international p53 isoforms conferences: Lyon, France (poster; May 2019) and Dubrovnik, Croatia (talk; November, 2019).

Publication in Molecular Cell that describes non-redundant and mechanistically distinct requirements for CDK8 vs. CDK19 during cellular responses to the universal inflammatory cytokine IFNgamma (November, 2019). Work was part of our ongoing collaboration with the Kovarik lab (MPL, Vienna).

Kevin Clopper joins our group as a PhD student.  Welcome Kevin! (October 2019)

Mechanisms of Eukaryotic Transcription meeting, Cold Spring Harbor, NY (August 2019).

Charli Fant defends her PhD thesis (July 2019).  Congratulations Dr. Fant!

PhD students Taylor Jones and Olivia Luyties join the lab.  Welcome!  (May 2019)

Review article about the Mediator kinases CDK8 and CDK19, published in Transcription (April, 2019).

Assisting with a Young lab (MIT) study, publication in Cell that establishes functional links between DNA-binding transcription factors, Mediator, and liquid-liquid phase separation. Mediator itself is shown to undergo phase separation at low concentration in vitro (December 2018).

Taatjes Lab Halloween Party and Pumpkin Carving Contest (October 2018).

ASBMB Special Symposium on Chromatin and RNA polymerase II, Snowbird, Utah (October 2018).

SMICH (Signaling Mechanisms In Cellular Homeostasis) PhD program retreat, sponsored by Austrian Science Fund; Strass im Strassertale, Austria (September 2018).


University of Colorado Biochemistry Retreat in Winter Park, Colorado (September 2018).

Review published in JBC on Mediator structure and function (September 2018).

Colorado Chromatin and Genome Regulation Meeting (August 2018).

Dr. Tim Decker joins the group as a postdoc, after earning his PhD in the lab of Dirk Eick. Welcome to the group Tim! (July 2018).

Ph D. student Allison Schier joins the lab. Welcome Alli! (May 2018).

The lab welcomes Raoul Martin from the Nogales lab as a visiting scholar (April 2018). 

Publication of review article on the structure and function of the TFIIH complex in Protein Science (April 2018).