Kara A. Bernstein, PhD

Associate Professor

Dr. Bernstein


Fax: 412-623-1010

2.42e University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

5117 Centre Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-1862


PhD in Genetics, Yale University

Research Summary

Repair of DNA damage is crucial to prevent accumulation of mutations that can cause human disease, such as cancer. Our lab studies how double-strand breaks in the DNA, one of the most lethal types of DNA lesions, are repaired. Many proteins are important for DNA repair including the Shu complex and the Rad51 paralogs, whose mutation is associated with cancer predisposition and Fanconi anemia. Our lab uses cell biological, molecular, and genetic approaches to study the role of double-strand break repair proteins, such as the Shu complex and the Rad51 paralogs, in response to DNA damage. By understanding the mechanism of double-strand break repair and the role of DNA repair proteins in this process, we will uncover mechanisms of tumorigenesis and cancer progression. We will then use this knowledge to aid in diagnosis/prognosis of different types of cancers and to find novel therapeutic targets. 

Dr. Bernstein conducts her research at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. 

Research Lab Affiliation


Godin, S. K; Zhang, Z; Herken, B. W; Westmoreland, J. W; Lee, A. G; Mihalevic, M. J; Yu, Z; Sobol, R. W; Resnick, M. A. and Bernstein, K. A. (2016) The Shu complex promotes error-free tolerance of alkylation-induced base excision repair products. Nucleic Acids Res. |  View Abstract

Bohm, S; Szakal, B; Herken, B. W; Sullivan, M. R; Mihalevic, M. J; Kabbinavar, F. F; Branzei, D; Clark, N. L. and Bernstein K. A. (2016) The Budding Yeast Ubiquitin Protease Ubp7 Is a Novel Component Involved in S Phase Progression. J Biol Chem. 291: 4442-4452. |  View Abstract

Wei, L; Nakajima, S; Bohm, S; Bernstein, K. A; Shen, Z; Tsang, M; Levine, A. S. and Lan, L. (2015) DNA damage during the G0/G1 phase triggers RNA-templated, Cockayne syndrome B-dependent homologous recombination. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 112: E3495-3504. |  View Abstract

Godin, S. K; Meslin, C; Kabbinavar, F; Bratton-Palmer, D. S; Hornack, C; Mihalevic, M; Yoshida, K; Sullivan, M; Clark, N. L. and Bernstein, K. A. (2015) Evolutionary and functional analysis of the invariant SWIM domain in the conserved Shu2/SWS1 protein family from Saccharomyces cerevisiae to Homo sapiens. Genetics. 199: 1023-1033. |  View Abstract

Gaines, W. A; Godin, S. K; Kabbinavar, F. F; Rao, T; VanDemark, A. P; Sung, P. and Bernstein, K. A. (2015) Promotion of presynaptic filament assembly by the ensemble of S. cerevisiae Rad51 paralogues with Rad52. Nat Commun. 6: 7834. |  View Abstract

Bernstein, K. A; Juanchich, A; Sunjevaric, I. and Rothstein, R. (2013) The Shu complex regulates Rad52 localization during rDNA repair. DNA Repair (Amst). [Epub ahead of print 06/25/2013] |  View Abstract

Godin, S; Wier, A; Kabbinavar, F; Bratton-Palmer, D. S; Ghodke, H; Van Houten, B; VanDemark, A. P. and Bernstein, K. A. (2013) The Shu complex interacts with Rad51 through the Rad51 paralogues Rad55-Rad57 to mediate error-free recombination. Nucleic Acids Res. 41: 4525-4534. |  View Abstract