Dr. Jill Dembowski

Jill Dembowski

Assistant Professor
Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Biological Sciences

240A Mellon Hall
Phone: 412.396.4356


B.S., Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Clarion University, 2004
Ph.D., Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Pittsburgh, 2009
Post-doctoral Research Associate, Carnegie Mellon University, 2009-2013
Research Associate, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 2013-2015
Research Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 2015-2019

Dr. Dembowski performed her graduate work with Dr. Paula Grabowski at the University of Pittsburgh where she investigated mechanisms of alternative pre-mRNA splicing regulation in the nervous system. She carried out her postdoctoral work with Dr. John Woolford at Carnegie Mellon University where she investigated mechanisms of eukaryotic ribosome assembly. She then pursued a second postdoctoral position with Dr. Neal DeLuca at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where she investigated protein recruitment to viral DNA using proteomic approaches. Dr. Dembowski joined the Department of Biological Sciences at Duquesne University as an Assistant Professor in 2019.


Herpesviruses have co-evolved with their hosts over hundreds of millions of years and have adapted sophisticated mechanisms to escape host immune responses and to adapt host factors for viral processes. To study the involvement of host proteins in processes that occur on viral DNA, we developed a new approach to purify HSV-1 DNA from infected cells for the identification of viral genome-associated proteins using mass spectrometry. We discovered that select host transcription, chromatin remodeling, and DNA repair proteins are recruited to HSV-1 genomes and determined how these interactions change as infection progresses. These studies provide new insight into the involvement of host factors in the regulation of viral transcription, DNA replication, and DNA repair. Of interest, we found that select chromatin remodeling, histone chaperone, and histone modification enzymes associate with viral DNA at distinct stages of infection. These include the Mi-2/NuRD, SWI/SNF, B-WICH, INO80, and FACT complexes as well as the LSD1 demethylase. The Dembowski lab is interested in investigating how these host factors and complexes contribute to the regulation of viral DNA to promote or inhibit viral transcription and replication-coupled processes.


Click here for a full listing of publications.

Dembowski JA and DeLuca NA. (2018) Temporal Viral Genome-Protein Interactions Define Distinct Stages of Productive Herpesviral Infection. mBio 9(4): e011820-18.

Dembowski JA* and DeLuca NA. (2017) Purification of Viral DNA for the Identification of Associated Viral and Cellular Proteins. J Vis Exp 126:e56374. *Corresponding authorship

Fox HL, Dembowski JA, and DeLuca NA. (2017) A Herpesviral Immediate Early Protein Promotes Transcription Elongation of Viral Transcripts. mBio 8(3): e00745-17.

Dembowski JA, Dremel SE, and DeLuca NA. (2017) Replication-Coupled Recruitment of Viral and Cellular Factors to Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Replication Forks for the Maintenance and Expression of Viral Genomes. PLoS Pathog 13(1): e1006166.

Dembowski JA and DeLuca NA. (2015) Selective Recruitment of Nuclear Factors to Productively Replicating Herpes Simplex Virus Genomes. PLoS Pathog 11(5): e1004939.

Dembowski JA, Ramesh M, McManus CJ, and Woolford JL Jr. (2013) Identification of the Binding Site of Rlp7 on Assembling 60S Ribosomal Subunits in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. RNA 19(12):1639-1647

Dembowski JA, Kuo B, and Woolford JL Jr. (2013) Has1 Regulates Consecutive Maturation and Processing Steps for Assembly of 60S Ribosomal Subunits. Nucleic Acids Res 41(16):7889-7904.

Dembowski JA and Grabowski PJ. (2013) Splicing Decisions Shape Neuronal Protein Function Across the Transcriptome. In Wu J, ed., Post-Transcriptional Gene Regulation: RNA Processing in Eukaryotes, Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 163-180.

Dembowski JA, An P, Scoulos-Hanson M, Yeo G, Han J, Fu X, and Grabowski PJ. (2012) Alternative Splicing of a Novel Inducible Exon Diversifies the CASK Guanylate Kinase Domain. J Nucleic Acids 2012:816237.

Sahasranaman A, Dembowski J, Strahler J, Andrews P, Maddock J, and Woolford JL Jr. (2011) Assembly of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae 60S Ribosomal Subunits: Role of Factors Required for 27S pre-rRNA Processing. EMBO J 30(19): 4020-32.

Dembowski JA and Grabowski PJ. (2009) The CUGBP2 Splicing Factor Regulates an Ensemble of Branchpoints from Perimeter Binding Sites with Implications for Autoregulation. PLoS Genet 5(8):e1000595.


Biology I (Fall 2019)
Advanced Cell & Molecular Biology II (Spring 2020)