Charles Brenner, PhD


Roy J. Carver Chair and DEO, Department of Biochemistry
Founding Co-Director, Obesity Research and Education Initiative
Professor of Biochemistry
Professor of Internal Medicine

Contact Information

Primary Office: 4-403 BSB
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-7934

Lab: 4-339 BSB
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-384-4099

Web: Brenner Laboratory
Web: Google Scholar Citations


BA, Biology, Wesleyan University
PhD, Cancer Biology, Stanford University

Post Doctorate, Chemistry and Biochemistry (X-Ray Crystallography), Brandeis University

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Department of Biochemistry PhD
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Translational Biomedicine
Medical Scientist Training Program

Research Summary

Cellular function and differentiation depend on an ability to read environmental cues and to execute a gene expression program that is appropriate to time, place and context. Nutrient availability is among the most important signals to which cells respond. Importantly, nutrients are not only transmitted from outside an organism, i.e., by feeding, but are also transmitted from cell to cell and from tissue to tissue. Metabolic control of gene expression is critical to the maintenance of cellular longevity. Dysregulation of the nutritional control of gene expression underlies a series of conditions including nondetection of satiety, which can lead to obesity and diabetes, and diseases such as cancer. Our laboratory is engaged in several projects that dissect specific problems in the metabolic control of gene expression. In particular, we are interested in how changing environmental conditions lead to reversible transfer of two carbon, i.e. acetyl, and one carbon, i.e. methyl, groups to proteins and DNA, respectively. These processes are fundamentally important because two carbon transfers link carbohydrate and fat metabolism to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) biosynthesis and because one carbon transfers link the folate cycle and methionine biosynthesis to S-adenosyl methionine metabolism. Trainees in our group are engaged in interdisciplinary projects, performing protein purification, enzymology, structural biology, yeast and somatic cell genetics, genomics, and chemical biology.

Center, Program and Institute Affiliations

Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing
Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center
Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center
UI Obesity Research and Education Initiative

Selected Publications

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Mei S, Brenner C.  Calorie restriction-mediated replicative lifespan extension in yeast is non-cell autonomous .  PLoS Biol.  2015. 13(1):e1002048.

Brenner C.  Boosting NAD to Spare Hearing.  Cell Metabolism.  2014. 21:926-927 .

Brenner C.  Metabolism: Targeting a fat-accumulation gene.  Nature.  2014. 508:194-195.

Wu B, Brenner C.  Suppression of TET1-Dependent DNA Demethylation is Essential for KRAS-Mediated Transformation.  Cell Reports.  2014. 9:1827-1840 .

Fagan R, Cryderman D, Kopelovich L, Wallrath L, Brenner C.  Laccaic Acid A is a Direct, DNA-Competitive Inhibitor of DNA Methyltransferase 1.  The Journal of biological chemistry.  2013 July. 228:23858-23867.

Ghanta S, Grossmann R, Brenner C.  Mitochondrial protein acetylation as a cell-intrinsic, evolutionary driver of fat storage: chemical and metabolic logic of acetyl-lysine modifications.  Critical Rev Biochem & Mol Biol.  2013. 48:561-574.

Trammell S, Brenner C.  Targeted, LCMC-based Metabolomics for Quantitative Measurement of NAD+ Metabolites.  Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal.  2013. 4:e201301012.

Syeda F, Fagan R, Wean M, Avvakumov G, Walker J, Xue S, Dhe-Paganon S, Brenner C.  The replication focus targeting sequence (RFTS) domain is a DNA-competitive inhibitor of Dnmt1.  The Journal of biological chemistry.  2011 April. 286(17):15344-51.

Belenky P, Racette F, Bogan K, McClure J, Smith J, Brenner C.  Nicotinamide riboside promotes Sir2 silencing and extends lifespan via Nrk and Urh1/Pnp1/Meu1 pathways to NAD+.  Cell.  2007 May. 129(3):473-84.

Date Last Modified: 04/12/2016 - 14:29:46