Assistant Professor
Ramanujan Fellow


PhD: Laval Cancer Research Center, Laval University, Canada

Post-Doctorate: Harvard University, Boston, USA,







Research Interests

 Genetic information within the eukaryotic cell nucleus is organized in a highly conserved structural polymer, the chromatin, which supports and controls crucial functions of the genome. The basic unit of chromatin is the nucleosome, which contains DNA that is complexed with small basic proteins called histones. The tight association of these proteins with DNA provides a level of transcription control and contributes to epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation. Our group is focused on understanding the role of epigenetic modifications in gene regulation and genome Organization and their involvement in cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Our interest is fueled by the fact that many of these epigenetic pathways are deregulated in various diseases. We use a combination of approaches ranging from molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics, as well as proteomics and functional genomics to understand the precise molecular mechanisms involved in regulating epigenetics in gene regulation and genome organization.

In addition to epigenetic pathways, which are governed at the DNA and chromatin levels, we are also interested in understanding the role of Non-coding RNAs in cancer diagnosis and therapy.




  1. S Ahmad, V Cote, X Cheng, G Bourriquen, V Sapountzi, M Altaf, J Cote. Antagonistic relationship of NuA4 with the Non-Homologous End-Joining machinery at DNA damage sites. PLOS GENETICS. 17(9): e1009816, 2021.

  2. US Mir, A Bhat, A Mushtaq, S Pandita, M Altaf, TK Pandita. Role of Histone acetyltransferases MOF and Tip60 in Genome Stability. DNA Repair. 2021 Aug 8;107:103205.

  3. Banday S, Pandita RK, Mushtaq A, Bacolla A, Mir US, Singh DK, Bhat KP, Hunt CR, Ganesh Rao, Charaka VK, Tainer JA, Pandita TK and Altaf M. Autism-associated vigilin depletion impairs DNA damage repair. Molecular and Cellular Biology, 23 June 2021.

  4. A Mushtaq, US Mir, CR Hunt, S Pandita, WW Tantray, A Bhat, RK Pandita, Altaf M, Pandita TK. Role of Histone Methylation in Maintenance of Genome Integrity. Genes. 2021. PMID: 34209979.

  5. S Nisar, RA Dar, Altaf M, Z Farooq, I Tahir. Some important biochemical changes orchestrating flower development and senescence in Nicotiana plumbaginifolia Viv. and Petunia hybrida Vilm. flowers,. The Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, 1-11, 2021.

  6. Banday S, Farooq Z, Ganai SA and Altaf M.  Therapeutic strategies against hDot1L as a potential drug target in MLL-rearranged leukemias. Clinical Epigenetics, 2020 May 25;12(1):73

  7. Farooq Z, Abdullah E, Banday S, Ganai SA, Rashid R, Mushtaq M, Rashid S and Altaf M. Vigilin protein Vgl1 is required for heterochromatin mediated gene silencing. Journal of Biological Chemistry, Sep 26, 2019.

  8. Nissar U Ashraf and Altaf M. Epigenetics: an emerging field in the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Mutation Research Reviews, 778 (2018) 1–12.

  9. Ganai SA, Banday S, Farooq Z and Altaf M. In silico approaches for investigating the binding propensity of apigenin and luteolin against class I HDAC isoforms. Future Medicinal Chemistry 2018 Jul 11. doi: 10.4155/fmc-2018-0020.

  10. Banday S, Farooq Z, Rashid R and AltafM#. Role of Inner Nuclear Membrane Protein Complex Lem2-Nur1 in Heterochromatic Gene Silencing. J Biol Chem.2016 Sep 16;291(38):20021-9.          
  11. Ganai SA, Banday S, Farooq Z, Altaf M#. Modulating epigenetic HAT activity for reinstating acetylation homeostasis: A promising therapeutic strategy for neurological disorders. Pharmacol Ther.2016 Jul 10. pii: S0163-7258(16)30110-3.   
  12.   Ganai SA, Rashid R, Abdullah E, Altaf M#.  Plant derived inhibitor Sulforaphane in combinatorial therapy against therapeutically challenging Pancreatic Cancer.. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2016 Jun 6.
  13. FarooqZ, Banday S, Pandita TK and AltafM#. The many faces of histone        H3K79 methylation. Mutation Research Reviews, 2016 Apr-Jun;768:46-52.   
  14.  Cheng X, Auger A, Altaf M, Drouin S, Paquet E, Utley R, Robert F and Jacques Cote. Eaf1 Links the NuA4 Histone Acetyltransferase Complex to Htz1 Incorporation and Regulation of Purine Biosynthesis. Eukaryotic Cell, 14, 535-44, 2015.
  15.  Wang F, Li G, Altaf M, Lu C, Curie MA, Johnson A and Moazed D. Heterochromatin protein Sir3 induces contacts between the amino terminus of histone H4 and nucleosomal DNA. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. May 21; 110(21): 8495-500,2013.   
  16.   Nnakwe CC, Altaf M, Côté J, Kron SJ. Dissection of Rad9 BRCT domain function in the mitotic checkpoint response to telomere uncapping. DNA Repair 2009 Dec 3;8(12):1452-61.
  17.  Altaf M, Auger A, Monnet-Saksouk J, Brodeur J, Piquet S, Cramet M, Bouchard N, Lacoste N, Utley RT, Gaudreau L, Côté J. NuA4-dependent acetylation of nucleosomal histones H4 and H2A directly stimulates incorporation of H2A.Z by the SWR1 complex. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2010 May 21;285(21):15966-77
  18. Altaf M, Auger A, Covic M and Cote J. Connection between histone H2A variants and chromatin remodeling complexes. Biochem Cell Biol. 2009 Feb;87(1):35-50.
  19. Auger A, Galarneau L , Altaf M, Nourani A, Doyon Y, Utley RT, Cronier D, Allard S and Côté  J. Eaf1 is the platform for NuA4 molecular assembly that evolutionarily links chromatin acetylation to ATP-dependent exchange of histone H2A variants. Molecular and Cellular Biology. 2008 Apr;28(7):2257.
  20. Altaf M, Utley RT, Lacoste N, Tan S, Briggs SD, Côté J.  Interplay of chromatin modifiers on a short basic patch of histone H4 tail defines the boundary of telomeric heterochromatin. Molecular Cell. 2007 Dec 28; 28(6):1002-14.
  21. Mantelingu K, Kishore AH, Balasubramanyam K, Kumar GV, Altaf M, Swamy SN, Selvi R, Das C, Narayana C, Rangappa KS, Kundu TK. Thehydrocarbon tail of CTPB further potentiates the p300 dependent Chromatin Transcription. J Phys Chem B. 2007 May 3;111(17):4527-34.             
  22.  Altaf M, Nehme Saksouk N and Jacques Cote. Histone modifications in response to DNA damage. Mutation Research Reviews. 2007 May 1;618(1-2):81-90.                                                                             
  23. Ali Javaheri, Robert Wysocki, Olivier Jobin-Robitaille, Altaf M, Jacques Cote and Stephen J. Kron Yeast G1DNA damage checkpoint regulation by H2A phosphorylation is independent of chromatin remodeling. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 2006Sep 12;103(37):13771.
  24. Shravanti Rampalli, L. Pavithra, Altaf Bhatt, Tapas K. Kundu, and Samit Chattopadhyay.Tumorsuppressor SMAR1 mediates cyclin D1 repression by recruitment of the SIN3/histone deacetylase 1 complex. Molecular and Cellular Biology. 2005 October; 25(19): 8415–8429.
  25. Altaf MBalasubramanyam K, Varier RA, Swaminathan V, Siddappa NB, Ranga U, Kundu TK. Curcumin, a Novel p300/CREB-binding Protein-specific Inhibitor of acetyltransferase, represses the Acetylation of Histone/Nonhistone Proteins and Histone Acetyltransferase-dependent Chromatin Transcription. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2004 Dec 3; 279(49): 51163-71.
  26. Altaf M,Balasubramanyam K, Varier RA, Swaminathan V, Ravindran A, Sadhale PP, Kundu TK. Polyisoprenylated benzophenone, garcinol, a natural histone acetyltransferase inhibitor, represses chromatin transcription and alters global gene expression.Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2004Aug 6; 279(32): 33716-26.


: - Equal contribution

#: - Corresponding Author




1.Karanam Balasubramanyam, Altaf, M., Lingu M, Radhika, A.V., Swaminathan, Vand Kundu T.K. (2003). Polyisoprenylated benzophenones and their isomers as inhibitors of Histone acetyltransferases and uses thereof. No: 929/CHE/2003.


2. Balasubramanyam, K., Swaminathan, V, Altaf M, Radhika. A. V and Kundu,T.K. Use of curcumanoids as Histone acetyltransferases (HATs) inhibitors. IPN: 544/CHE/2004.


Professional Memberships

The Society of Biological Chemists, India

The American Society for Microbiology, USA

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, USA


Awards and Honors


2008                           European molecular biology Organization (EMBO) Award

2012                           Ramanujan Fellowship, Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India

2016                          ICMR International Fellowship for Young Bio-Medical  Scientists



Group Members


Ph.D Students            


Arjamand Mushtaq

Ulfat Syed Mir

Wajahat Waseem

Dr. Iqbal Bhat  (DS Kothari Postdoctoral Fellow)

Lab Alumni

Dr. Nisarul Ashraf, Assistant Professor, Higher Education, UT of J and K.

Shahid Banday (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Massachusetts, USA)

Zeenat Farooq (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

Romana Rashid (Postdoctoral Fellow, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, USA)