MRC Human Genetics Unit
Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit

Nezha Benabdallah

Chromatin Regulators in Cancer

Dr. Nezha Benabdallah, Chancellor’s Fellow
Dr. Nezha Benabdallah, Chancellor’s Fellow

Research in a Nutshell

Chromatin, a complex combination of DNA, RNA, and histone proteins, functions as a flexible packaging system for our genetic material. It plays a pivotal role in determining the activation of specific genes and ensuring accurate genome segregation during cell division. Dysregulation or mutations in chromatin regulators often serve as key drivers of uncontrolled cell growth, leading to cancer development.

Our aim is to bridge fundamental research with relevant clinical models and observations to gain insights into novel mechanisms of chromatin regulation. We specifically focus on understanding cancers initiated by a single chromosomal rearrangement. This rearrangement often fuses two chromatin regulator genes, forming a chimeric fusion protein responsible for initiating tumorigenesis. Due to their genetic simplicity, these cancers offer a valuable model for studying chromatin regulation and investigating cancer formation.

By dissecting the molecular mechanisms driving fusion-driven tumours, our objective is to elucidate the roles of chromatin regulators in these chimeric fusion proteins. Through these efforts, our goal is to shed light on fundamental biological processes and create new avenues for improved diagnostics and therapies within this challenging landscape.

Nezha Benabdallah Research Group


Nezha Benabdallah Chancellor’s Fellow
Libby Wray Research Assistant



1. Aberrant gene activation in synovial sarcoma relies on SSX specificity and increased PRC1.1 stability. NS Benabdallah, V Dalal, RW Scott, F Marcous, A Sotiriou, FKF Kommoss, A Pejkovska, L Gaspar, L Wagner, FJ Sánchez-Rivera, M Ta, S Thornton, TO Nielsen, TM Underhill, A Banito. 2023. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology

2. Decreased enhancer-promoter proximity accompanying enhancer activation. NS Benabdallah, I Williamson, RS Illingworth, L Kane, S Boyle, D Sengupta, GR Grimes, P Therizols, WA Bickmore. 2019. Molecular cell


Scientific Themes

Chromatin Dynamics and Regulation, Cancer Initiation and Tumorigenesis, Sarcomas.

Technology Expertise

Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Imaging, Genome Editing, Gene Expression and Chromatin Profiling.