Bennet Van Houten-The Center for Nucleic Acids Science and Technology - Carnegie Mellon University

Bennet Van Houten

Richard M. Cyert Professor of Molecular Oncology, The University of Pittsburgh's Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology

Co-Leader, Program of Molecular and Cellular Cancer Biology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

Associate Director for Basic Research, Aging Institute, University of Pittsburgh

Phone: 412-623-7762
Affiliation: The University of Pittsburgh


Research in the Van Houten laboratory is in two general areas: 1) mitochondrial function and disease and 2) analysis of DNA nucleotide excision repair enzymes by single molecule techniques. The goal of the DNA repair experiments is to examine repair in real-time at the single molecule level using DNA protein-quantum dot (Qdot) conjugates. We have initiated single-molecule imaging of repair protein dynamics using atomic force microscopy (Nano Letters, 2008) and single-molecule fluorescence using quantum dot conjugated bacterial and human proteins (Molecular Cell, 2010; Nucleic Acids Res. 2013; PNAS, 2012, 2014,). Together these studies help demonstrate the dynamic hand off of processed DNA lesions from one repair protein to another.


Kad, N.; Van Houten, B. Single molecule techniques in DNA repair: A primer. Special Issue of DNA Repair (in press). 2014.

Kad, N.; Van Houten, B. Investigation of bacterial nucleotide excision repair using single-molecule techniques. Special Issue of DNA Repair (in press). 2014, PMID:24472181. PMCID:PMC Journal.

Ghodke, H.; Wang, H.; Hsieh, C. L; Woldemeskel, S.; Watkins, S.; Rapic-Otrin, V.; Van Houten, B. Single molecule analysis of the human repair protein, UV-damaged DNA binding protein (UV-DDB), reveals a complex kinetic landscape for the formation of long-lived (DDB1-DDB2)2 dimers at sites of DNA damage. PNAS Plus (in press). 2014, May 6;111(18):E1862-71. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1323856111. Epub 2014 Apr 23.

Van Houten, B.; Kisker, C. Transcriptional pausing to scout ahead for DNA damage. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2014, Mar 18; 111(11):3905-6. Doi: 10.1073/pnas.1402020111. Epub2014 Mar 5. PubMed PMID: 24599593; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3964122.

Lan, L.; Nakajima, S.; Wei, L.; Sun, L.; Hsieh, C.L.; Sobol, R.W.; Bruchez, M.; Van Houten, B.; Yasui, A.; Levine, A.S. Novel method for site-specific induction of oxidative DNA damage reveals differences in recruitment of repair proteins to heterochromatin and euchromatin. Nucleic Acids Research. 2014, Feb 1;42(4):2330-45. PMCID:PMC3936713

Vaisman, A.; McDonald, J. P.; Huston, D.; Kuban, W.; Liu, L.; Van Houten, B.; Woodgate, R. Removal of misincorporated ribonucleotides from prokaryotic genomes: an unexpected role for nucleotide excision repair. PLoS Genetics. 2013, Nov 7; (11):e1003878. PMCID:PMC3820734

Hughes, C.; Wang, H.; Ghodke, H.; Simons, M.; Towheed, A.; Peng, Y.; Van Houten, B.; Kad, N. Real time single molecule imaging reveals a direct interaction between UvrC and UvrB on DNA tightropes. Nucleic Acids Res. 2013, March 19, May;41(9):4901-12. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkt177. Epub 2013 Mar 19. PMCID: PMC3643590.

Yeh, J.I.; Levine, A. S.; Du, S.; Chinte, U.; Ghodke, H.; Wang, H.; Shi, H; Hsieh, C. L.; Vu, T.; Conway, J. F.; Van Houten, B.; Rapić-Otrin, V. Damaged DNA induced UV-DDB dimerization and its roles on chromatinized DNA repair. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2012, 109(41):E2737-46 PMCID: PMC3478663.

Kad, N.M.; Wang, H.; Kennedy, G. G.; Warshaw, D.M.; Van Houten, B.; Collaborative dynamic DNA scanning by nucleotide excision repair proteins investigated by single-molecule fluorescence imaging of quantum dot labeled proteins. Molecular Cell. 2010, 37(5):702-13. PMID: 20227373

Wang, H.; Tessmer, I.; Croteau, D.L.; Erie, D.A.; Van Houten, B. Functional Characterization and Atomic Force Microscopy of a DNA Repair Protein Conjugated to a Quantum Dot. Nano Lett. 2008, Jun;8(6):1631-7.PMCID: PMC3941028