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Kevin Van Bortle

Assistant Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology

Research Interests

Research Topics

Chromatin Structure, Computational Biology, Genome Organization, Genomics, Regulation of Gene Expression, RNA Biology

Disease Research Interests

Cancer, Drug Discovery

Research Description

RNA polymerase III transcription, gene regulation, small noncoding RNA

RNA polymerase III (Pol III) transcribes genes encoding tRNA, 5S ribosomal RNA, and other classes of small noncoding RNA involved in translation and other critical processes. Pol III activity is a prerequisite for cell growth and is linked to nutrient availability and extracellular growth cues via oncogenic and tumor-suppressor signaling pathways. Aberrant activation of growth signaling factors can lead to elevated levels of Pol III transcription, a hallmark of cancer.

My lab uses genomic approaches to investigate Pol III transcription dynamics during differentiation and in response to extracellular cues and signaling events. We are particularly interested in understanding the regulatory mechanisms that promote or restrict Pol III activity and which underly Pol III dysregulation in cancer. Our recent work suggests that a specific Pol III subunit, POLR3G, which is highly expressed in proliferative cells and a myriad of cancer contexts, enhances Pol III transcription and drives expression of small NF90-associated (SNAR-A) noncoding RNA. We seek to better understand the mechanism of POLR3G-enhanced transcription, the function of SNAR-A and other Pol III-transcribed small RNA, and the role of POLR3G as a potential disease factor and future therapeutic target.


B.S. 2009 University of Rochester
Ph.D. 2014 Emory University
Postdoc. 2015-2021 Stanford University School of Medicine

Awards and Honors

2019-2024 NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00)
2015-2018 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA F32)

Additional Campus Affiliations

Recent Publications

Roodgar, M., Suchy, F. P., Nguyen, L. H., Bajpai, V. K., Sinha, R., Vilches-Moure, J. G., Van Bortle, K., Bhadury, J., Metwally, A., Jiang, L., Jian, R., Chiang, R., Oikonomopoulos, A., Wu, J. C., Weissman, I. L., Mankowski, J. L., Holmes, S., Loh, K. M., Nakauchi, H., ... Snyder, M. P. (2022). Chimpanzee and pig-tailed macaque iPSCs: Improved culture and generation of primate cross-species embryos. Cell Reports, 40(9), [111264].

Van Bortle, K., Marciano, D. P., Liu, Q., Chou, T., Lipchik, A. M., Gollapudi, S., Geller, B. S., Monte, E., Kamakaka, R. T., & Snyder, M. P. (2022). A cancer-associated RNA polymerase III identity drives robust transcription and expression of snaR-A noncoding RNA. Nature communications, 13(1), [3007].

Liu, Q., Van Bortle, K., Zhang, Y., Zhao, M. T., Zhang, J. Z., Geller, B. S., Gruber, J. J., Jiang, C., Wu, J. C., & Snyder, M. P. (2018). Disruption of mesoderm formation during cardiac differentiation due to developmental exposure to 13-cis-retinoic acid. Scientific reports, 8(1), [12960].

Liu, Q., Jiang, C., Xu, J., Zhao, M. T., Van Bortle, K., Cheng, X., Wang, G., Chang, H. Y., Wu, J. C., & Snyder, M. P. (2017). Genome-Wide Temporal Profiling of Transcriptome and Open Chromatin of Early Cardiomyocyte Differentiation Derived from hiPSCs and hESCs. Circulation Research, 121(4), 376-391.

Phanstiel, D. H., Van Bortle, K., Spacek, D., Hess, G. T., Shamim, M. S., Machol, I., Love, M. I., Aiden, E. L., Bassik, M. C., & Snyder, M. P. (2017). Static and Dynamic DNA Loops form AP-1-Bound Activation Hubs during Macrophage Development. Molecular cell, 67(6), 1037-1048.e6.

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