The over-arching theme in my laboratory involves the genetic and epigenetic basis of development, and how defects in these processes contribute to congenital defects and cancer. The genetic component of this research seeks to understand pathogeneses associated with loss- and gain-of-function in the PAX3 gene, one of nine mammalian PAX genes that are defined by the paired box, a DNA-binding domain first described in the Drosophila protein paired. The PAX transcription factors (PAX1-9) make executive decisions on cell division, differentiation and fate by specifying discrete gene expression programs. Their importance is underscored by the fact that seven cause birth defects in humans and mice upon loss-of-function, while five directly contribute to oncogenesis through translocations or deregulated expression. Our second area of interest is in epigenetic control during cell differentiation and cancer.