Donald E. Ayer, PhD

Research Interests

  • Myc
  • MondoA
  • Thioredoxin Interacting Protein
  • Transcription
  • Nutrient Sensing
  • Cancer Metabolism
  • Glycolysis
  • Glutaminolysis


Lab Website


  • English

Academic Information

  • Departments: Oncological Sciences - Professor
  • Cancer Center Programs: Nuclear Control of Cell Growth & Differentiation

Academic Office Information

  • 801-581-5597
  • Huntsman Cancer Institute
    2000 Circle of Hope, Room: 4365
    Salt Lake City, UT 84112

Academic Bio

Donald Ayer, PhD, is an investigator at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) and a professor in the Department of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah (U of U). He is a member of the Nuclear Control of Cell Growth and Differentiation Program.Ayer is a leader in the area of gene regulation and its role in normal and cancer cell growth. His research focuses on how cells regulate a transcription factor known as Myc, which is mutated in a wide variety of cancers. In normal cells, Myc is responsible for turning on the genes that are required for cell division. In cancer cells, Myc is "hyperactive" and causes cells to divide continuously, creating excess, unnecessary cells that form a tumor. Ayer's research group investigates how Myc functions in normal and cancer cells, and they work to increase the understanding of basic gene control mechanisms. This information could greatly improve cancer diagnosis methods and treatment.Ayer, a native of Michigan, earned a PhD in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Colorado. From 1989 to 1995, he received additional training under the direction of Robert Eisenman, PhD, a National Academy of Science member, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. In 1995, he was recruited to the U of U and HCI. He has published numerous research papers in leading scientific journals such as Cell and Genes and Development, and is the author of several book chapters in the area of gene expression.

Education History

Type School Degree
Postdoctoral Fellowship Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Postdoctoral Fellow
Doctoral Training University of Colorado
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Fellowship University of Colorado
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Undergraduate University of Michigan

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. Han KS, Ayer DE (2013). MondoA senses adenine nucleotides: transcriptional induction of thioredoxin-interacting protein. Biochem J, 453(2), 209-18.
  2. OShea JM, Ayer DE (2013). Coordination of nutrient availability and utilization by MAX- and MLX-centered transcription networks. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med, 3(9), a014258.
  3. Stoltzman CA, Kaadige MR, Peterson CW, Ayer DE (2011). MondoA senses non-glucose sugars: regulation of thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) and the hexose transport curb. J Biol Chem, 286(44), 38027-34.
  4. Peterson CW, Stoltzman CA, Sighinolfi MP, Han KS, Ayer DE (2010). Glucose controls nuclear accumulation, promoter binding, and transcriptional activity of the MondoA-Mlx heterodimer. Mol Cell Biol, 30(12), 2887-95.
  5. Sloan EJ, Ayer DE (2010). Myc, mondo, and metabolism. Genes Cancer, 1(6), 587-96.
  6. Kaadige MR, Elgort MG, Ayer DE (2010). Coordination of glucose and glutamine utilization by an expanded Myc network. Transcription, 1(1), 36-40.
  7. Elgort MG, OShea JM, Jiang Y, Ayer DE (2010). Transcriptional and Translational Downregulation of Thioredoxin Interacting Protein Is Required for Metabolic Reprogramming during G(1). Genes Cancer, 1(9), 893-907.
  8. Silveira AC, Hurst DR, Vaidya KS, Ayer DE, Welch DR (2009). Over-expression of the BRMS1 family member SUDS3 does not suppress metastasis of human cancer cells. Cancer Lett, 276(1), 32-7.
  9. Kaadige MR, Looper RE, Kamalanaadhan S, Ayer DE (2009). Glutamine-dependent anapleurosis dictates glucose uptake and cell growth by regulating MondoA transcriptional activity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 106(35), 14878-83.
  10. Stoltzman CA, Peterson CW, Breen KT, Muoio DM, Billin AN, Ayer DE (2008). Glucose sensing by MondoA:Mlx complexes: a role for hexokinases and direct regulation of thioredoxin-interacting protein expression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 105(19), 6912-7.


  1. Peterson CW, Ayer DE (2011). An extended Myc network contributes to glucose homeostasis in cancer and diabetes. [Review]. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed), 16, 2206-23.