Peter D Adams - Epigenetics of Cancer and Ageing

University of Glasgow / Beatson Associate


adams p

The Adams lab investigates the impact of chromatin structure and epigenetics on cell proliferation, ageing and cancer. In particular, we hypothesise that age-associated changes in chromatin structure, function and regulation contribute to the dramatic age-associated increase in incidence of cancer. While age is the biggest single risk factor for most cancers, the reason for this is current poorly understood.

University of Glasgow webpage

Adams Lab webpage

Lab Report



Education and qualifications

1993: PhD, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London, Supervisor Peter Parker
1989: BSc, Biochemistry, Oxford University, UK


2008-present: Professor, University of Glasgow, CRUK Beatson Institute
2008-2011: Associate Professor, Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, USA
2005-2011: Associate Professor, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA
2005-2008: Member with Tenure, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, USA
1999-2005: Associate Member, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, USA
1997-1998: Instructor, Division of Neoplastic Disease Mechanisms
1993-1997: Postdoctoral Fellow with William G. Kaelin Jr, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA

Recent Publications


van Tuyn J, Jaber-Hijazi F, MacKenzie D, Cole JJ, Mann E, Pawlikowski JS, Singh Rai T, Nelson DM, McBryan T, Ivanov A, Blyth K, Wu H, Milling S, Adams PD (2017) Oncogene-Expressing Senescent Melanocytes Upregulate Mhc Class Ii, A Candidate Melanoma Suppressor Function. J Invest Dermatol, in press

Wang T, Tsui B, Kreisberg JF, Robertson NA, Gross AM, Yu MK, Carter H, Brown-Borg HM, Adams PD, Ideker T. Epigenetic aging signatures in mice livers are slowed by dwarfism, calorie restriction and rapamycin treatment. Genome Biol 18: 57, 2017


Capell BC, Drake AM, Zhu J, Shah PP, Dou Z, Dorsey J, Simola DF, Donahue G, Sammons M, Rai TS, Natale C, Ridky TW, Adams PD, Berger SL. MLL1 is essential for the senescence-associated secretory phenotype. Genes Dev 30: 321-36, 2016

Correia-Melo C, Marques FDM, Anderson R, Hewitt G, Hewitt R, Cole J, Carroll BM, Miwa S, Birch J, Merz A, Rushton MD, Charles M, Jurk D, Tait SWG, Czapiewski R, Greaves L, Nelson G, Bohlooly-Y M, Rodriguez-Cuenca S, Vidal-Puig A, Mann D, Saretzki G, Quarato G, Green DR, Adams PD, von Zglinicki T, Korolchuk VI, Passos JF. Mitochondria are required for pro-ageing features of the senescent phenotype. EMBO J 35: 724-42, 2016

Maddocks ODK, Labuschagne CF, Adams PD, Vousden KH. Serine metabolism supports the methionine cycle and DNA/RNA methylation through de novo ATP synthesis in cancer cells. Mol Cell 61: 210-21, 2016

Nelson DM, Jaber-Hijazi F, Cole JJ, Robertson NA, Pawlikowski JS, Norris KT, Criscione SW, Pchelintsev NA, Piscitello D, Stong N, Rai TS, McBryan T, Otte GL, Nixon C, Clark W, Riethman H, Wu H, Schotta G, Garcia BA, Neretti N, Baird DM, Berger SL, Adams PD. Mapping H4K20me3 onto the chromatin landscape of senescent cells indicates a function in control of cell senescence and tumor suppression through preservation of genetic and epigenetic stability. Genome Biol 17: 158, 2016

Pchelintsev NA, Adams PD, Nelson DM. Critical parameters for efficient sonication and improved chromatin immunoprecipitation of high molecular weight proteins. PloS One 11: e0148023, 2016

Rai TS, Adams PD. ChIP-sequencing to map the epigenome of senescent cells using benzonase endonuclease. Methods Enzymol 574: 355-64, 2016

Field A, Adams PD. Targeting chromatin aging - The epigenetic impact of longevity-associated interventions. Exp Gerontol 2016 Dec 13. pii: S0531-5565(16)30583-6. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2016.12.010. [Epub ahead of print]

Vizioli MG, Adams PD. Senescence can be BETter without the SASP? Cancer Discov 6: 576-8, 2016

Klionsky DJ, Abdelmohsen K, Abe A, Abedin MJ, Abeliovich H, Acevedo Arozena A, Adachi H, Adams CM, Adams PD, Adeli K, Adhihetty PJ, Adler SG, Agam G, Agarwal R, Aghi MK, Agnello M, Agostinis P, Aguilar PV, Aguirre-Ghiso J, Airoldi EM et al. Guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy (3rd edition). Autophagy 12: 1-222, 2016


Daniel Ricketts M, Frederick B, Hoff H, Tang Y, Schultz DC, Singh Rai T, Grazia Vizioli M, Adams PD, Marmorstein R. Ubinuclein-1 confers histone H3.3-specific-binding by the HIRA histone chaperone complex. Nat Commun 6: 7711, 2015

Dikovskaya D, Cole JJ, Mason SM, Nixon C, Karim SA, McGarry L, Clark W, Hewitt RN, Sammons MA, Zhu J, Athineos D, Leach JD, Marchesi F, van Tuyn J, Tait SW, Brock C, Morton JP, Wu H, Berger SL, Blyth K, Adams PD. Mitotic Stress Is an Integral Part of the Oncogene-Induced Senescence Program that Promotes Multinucleation and Cell Cycle Arrest. Cell Rep 12: 1483-96, 2015

Dou Z, Xu C, Donahue G, Shimi T, Pan JA, Zhu J, Ivanov A, Capell BC, Drake AM, Shah PP, Catanzaro JM, Daniel Ricketts M, Lamark T, Adam SA, Marmorstein R, Zong WX, Johansen T, Goldman RD, Adams PD, Berger SL. Autophagy mediates degradation of nuclear lamina. Nature 527: 105-9, 2015

Pawlikowski JS, Brock C, Chen SC, Al-Olabi L, Nixon C, McGregor F, Paine S, Chanudet E, Lambie W, Holmes WM, Mullin JM, Richmond A, Wu H, Blyth K, King A, Kinsler VA, Adams PD. Acute Inhibition of MEK Suppresses Congenital Melanocytic Nevus Syndrome in a Murine Model Driven by Activated NRAS and Wnt Signaling. J Invest Dermatol 135: 2093-101, 2015

Waaijer ME, Gunn DA, Adams PD, Pawlikowski JS, Griffiths CE, van Heemst D, Slagboom PE, Westendorp RG, Maier AB. P16INK4a Positive Cells in Human Skin Are Indicative of Local Elastic Fiber Morphology, Facial Wrinkling, and Perceived Age. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2015. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glv114. Epub 2015 Aug 18

Adams PD, Jasper H, Rudolph KL. Aging-Induced Stem Cell Mutations as Drivers for Disease and Cancer. Cell Stem Cell 16: 601-12, 2015


Adams P, Antebi A, Cuervo AM, Kennedy B, Sedivy J. Aging Cell: open access to all. Aging Cell 13: 1, 2014

Haas NB, Quirt I, Hotte S, McWhirter E, Polintan R, Litwin S, Adams PD, McBryan T, Wang L, Martin LP, vonMehren M, Alpaugh RK, Zweibel J, Oza A. Phase II trial of vorinostat in advanced melanoma. Invest New Drugs 32: 526-34, 2014

Hofmann JW, McBryan T, Adams PD, Sedivy JM. The effects of aging on the expression of Wnt pathway genes in mouse tissues. Age (Dordr) 36: 9618, 2014

Lund K, Adams PD, Copland M. EZH2 in normal and malignant hematopoiesis. Leukemia 28: 44-9, 2014

Morran DC, Wu J, Jamieson NB, Mrowinska A, Kalna G, Karim SA, Au AY, Scarlett CJ, Chang DK, Pajak MZ, Oien KA, McKay CJ, Carter CR, Gillen G, Champion S, Pimlott SL, Anderson KI, Evans TR, Grimmond SM, Biankin AV, Sansom OJ, Morton JP. Targeting mTOR dependency in pancreatic cancer. Gut 63: 1481-9, 2014

Nelson DM, McBryan T, Jeyapalan JC, Sedivy JM, Adams PD. A comparison of oncogene-induced senescence and replicative senescence: implications for tumor suppression and aging. Age (Dordr) 36: 9637, 2014

Rai TS, Cole JJ, Nelson DM, Dikovskaya D, Faller W, Vizioli MG, Hewitt RN, Anannya O, McBryan T, Manoharan I, van Tuyn J, Morrice N, Pchelintsev NA, Ivanov A, Brock C, Drotar M, Nixon C, Clark W, Sansom OJ, Anderson KI, King A, Blyth K, Adams PD. HIRA orchestrates a dynamic chromatin landscape in senescence and is required for suppression of neoplasia. Genes Dev 28: 2712-25, 2014

Soni S, Pchelintsev N, Adams PD, Bieker JJ. Transcription factor EKLF (KLF1) recruitment of the histone chaperone HIRA is essential for beta-globin gene expression. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111: 13337-42, 2014


Pawlikowski JS, McBryan T, van Tuyn J, Drotar ME, Hewitt RN, Maier AB, King A, Blyth K, Wu H, Adams PD. Wnt signaling potentiates nevogenesis. PNAS 110: 16009-14, 2013

Pawlikowski JS, Adams PD, Nelson DM. Senescence at a glance. J Cell Sci 126: 4061-7, 2013

Shah PP, Donahue G, Otte GL, Capell BC, Nelson DM, Cao K, Aggarwala V, Cruickshanks HA, Rai TS, McBryan T, Gregory BD, Adams PD, Berger SL. Lamin B1 depletion in senescent cells triggers large scale changes in gene expression and in the chromatin landscape genes and development. Genes Dev 27: 1787-99, 2013

Ivanov A, Pawlikowski J, Manoharan I, van Tuyn J, Nelson DM, Rai TS, Shah PP, Hewitt G, Korolchuk VI, Passos JF, Wu H, Berger SL, Adams PD. Lysosome-mediated processing of chromatin in senescence. J Cell Biol 202: 129-43, 2013

Pchelintsev NA, McBryan T, Rai TS, van Tuyn J, Ray-Gallet D, Almouzni G, Adams PD. Placing the HIRA histone chaperone complex in the chromatin landscape. Cell Reports 3: 1012-9, 2013

Sawicka M, Pawlikowski J, Wilson S, Ferdinando D, Wu H, Adams PD, Gunn DA, Parish W. The specificity and patterns of staining in human cells and tissues of p16INK4a antibodies demonstrate variant antigen binding. PLoS ONE 8: e53313, 2013

Adams P, Antebi A, Cuervo AM, Kennedy B, Sedivy J. Editorial. Aging Cell 12: 1, 2013

Cruickshanks HA, McBryan T, Nelson DM, Vanderkraats ND, Shah PP, van Tuyn J, Singh Rai T, Brock C, Donahue G, Dunican DS, Drotar ME, Meehan RR, Edwards JR, Berger SL, Adams PD. Senescent cells harbour features of the cancer epigenome. Nature Cell Biol 15: 1495-506, 2013

Howard L, Mackenzie RM, Pchelintsev NA, McBryan T, McClure JD, McBride MW, Kane NM, Adams PD, Milligan G, Baker AH. Profiling of transcriptional and epigenetic changes during directed endothelial differentiation of human embryonic stem cells identifies FOXA2 as a marker of early mesoderm commitment. Stem Cell Research and Therapy 4: Art. 36, 2013

Rosenfeldt MT, O'Prey J, Morton JP, Nixon C, Mackay G, Mrowinska A, Au A, Rai TS, Zheng L, Ridgway R, Adams PD, Anderson KI, Gottlieb E, Sansom OJ, Ryan KM. p53 status determines the role of autophagy in pancreatic tumour development. Nature 2013. Epub 2013/12/07.


Dekker P, Gunn D, McBryan T, Dirks RW, van Heemst D, Lim FL, Jochemsen AG, Verlaan-de Vries M, Nagel J, Adams PD, Tanke HJ, Westendorp RG, Maier AB. Microarray-based identification of age-dependent differences in gene expression of human dermal fibroblasts. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development 133: 498-507, 2012

Rai TS, Adams PD. Lessons from senescence: chromatin maintenance in non-proliferating cells. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA): Gene Regulatory Mechanisms 1819; 322-31, 2012

Tang Y, Puri A, Ricketts MD, Rai TS, Hoffmann J, Hoi E, Adams PD, Schultz DC, Marmorstein R. Identification of an ubinuclein 1 region required for stability and function of the human HIRA/UBN1/CABIN1/ASF1a histone H3.3 chaperone complex. Biochemistry 51: 2366-77, 2012

van Tuyn J, Adams PD. Signalling the end of the line. Nature Cell Biol 14: 339-41, 2012

Lab Members

adams group


Farah Jaber-Hijazi
Kristina Kirschner
Arantxa Perez-Garcia
Neil Robertson
Maria Vizioli

Scientific Officers

Claire Brock
Francisco Madeira Marques

Clinical Research Fellow

Pavlina Spiliopoulou (University of Glasgow)

PhD Students

Adam Field
Ashley Newcombe


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