Nikki Harter, PhD

Research Information

Research Interests

Research in the Harter Laboratory focuses on three major areas:

  • (1) understanding the role of the transcription factor MyoD in the biology of satellite cells, the adult stem cells of skeletal muscle. Satellite cells are primarily responsible for skeletal muscle growth and repair, and in response to injury, they leave quiescence, proliferate at length, and then differentiate to form new muscle. We have new evidence suggesting that MyoD helps satellite cells to enter into the first round of DNA replication after transitioning out of quiescent
  • (2) determine whether solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation can induce epigenetic changes in the melanocytes of human skin, and if so, whether these alterations foster subsequent genetic changes that ultimately lead to the development of melanoma. Melanoma is a lethal skin malignancy of increasing incidence, and numerous studies have pointed to the importance of UV in its development
  • (3) understanding the nature of cellular quiescence at the level of chromatin structure. Insight into the organization of chromatin in establishing and maintaining cellular quiescence is critically important for understanding the biology underlying the development of human cancer.



  • Sha J., Gastman B.R., Morris N., Mesinkovska N.A., Baron E.D., Cooper K.D., McCormick T., Arbesman J., Harter M.L.
    “The Response of microRNAs to Solar UVR in Skin-Resident Melanocytes Differs between Melanoma Patients and Healthy Persons.”
    PLoS One. 11(5):e0154915 (2016). 
  • Dazard J. E., Zhang K., Sha J., Yasin O., Cai L., Nguyen C., Ghosh M., Bongorno J., and Harter M. L.
    “The dynamics of E1A in regulating networks and canonical pathways in quiescent cells”
    BMC Res Notes 4: 160 (2011). 
  • Zhang K, Sha J, & Harter ML
    “ Activation of Cdc6 by MyoD is associated with the expansion of quiescent myogenic satellite cells. ”
    J. Cell Biol. 188, 39-48 (2010)
  • Sha J, Ghosh MK, Zhang K, & Harter ML
    “ E1A interacts with two opposing transcriptional pathways to induce quiescent cells into S phase. ”
    J. Virol. 84, 4050-4059 (2010)
  • Zhang K, Sha J, & Harter ML
    “ MyoD: A new function: Ensuring “DNA licensing“. ”
    Cell Cycle 9, 1-2 (2010)
  • Ghosh, M., & Harter, M.L
    “A viral mechanism for remodeling chromatin structure in G0 cells”
    Mol. Cell 12, 255-260 (2003).
  • Mal, A., & Harter, M.L
    “MyoD is functionally linked to the silencing of a muscle-specific regulatory gene prior to skeletal myogenesis”
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100, 1735-1739 (2003).


Texas Tech University
Post Doc
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory