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Gregory Matera

& Associate Chair of Biology

Contact Information

Office: 3352 Genome Sciences Building
Email: matera[at]
Office Phone: (919) 962-4567
Lab Phone: (919) 962-4541

Matera Lab Website


Department of Genetics, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Curriculum in Genetics & Molecular Biology, Curriculum in Neurobiology

At a Glance

  • Epigenetic gene regulation
  • Animal models of Spinal Muscular Atrophy
  • RNA processing and RNP assembly

The research in our laboratory focuses on basic molecular, cellular and developmental biological processes. In particular, we are interested in the roles of small ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) in the human genetic disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  We are also focused on the functions of histone post-translational modifications (PTMs) in the regulation of eukaryotic gene expression, important for understanding disease mechanisms in many different types of cancer.

  • Developing tools to study (epi)genetics of multi-copy histone genes and functions of PTMs



Dr. Matera began his career as a chemist and molecular biologist. Over the past twenty years, has work shifted toward genetic analyses, primarily using Drosophila as a model system. With a demonstrated record of insightful, productive and sustained research projects (Google Scholar H-index = 55, July 2018), his laboratory has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1996. We have the tools, knowledge and skill to carry out sophisticated genetic manipulation of the genome, including site-specific gene mutations, multi-copy gene array construction and transgenesis.

There are two main projects:  (i) We study an RNP assembly factor (called Survival Motor Neuron, SMN) and its role in neuromuscular development and a genetic disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Current work is aimed at a molecular understanding of SMN’s function in spliceosomal snRNP assembly and dysfunction in SMA pathophysiology.   (ii) More recently, Dr. Matera established collaborations with several other groups here at UNC to develop a powerful system to study epigenetic gene regulation (outlined in the graphic above). Multi-gene families are often genetically intractable. Using a bacterial artificial chromosome vector built in the lab, we created a comprehensive genetic platform for histone gene replacement that — for the first time in any multicellular eukaryote — allows us to directly determine the extent to which histone post-translational modifications contribute to cell growth and development. We expect this platform will provide a rich source of experimental material for the epigenetics community.