Systems Biology of Chromatin


University of Cologne
Center for Molecular Medicine

We wish to uncover the rules governing gene expression in response to developmental and extra-cellular cues. Genome architecture is thought to be a major determinant in this. What we would like to understand is how chromatin folds to accommodate responses to such cues in all four dimensions, i.e. in 3D space and time. In the end, we anticipate these rules to be general ones, which - once deciphered - will allow us to predict how a cell might respond during disease, upon signaling, or in ageing.


An overview of our research

Latest news:

Our paper on HMGB2 topological bookmarking in senescence is now on the biorxiv preprint server (’

‘Οur i3C approach is highlighted in Nature Methods (doi:10.1038/nmeth.4172)’

What we do (for a non-scientific audience)

The efforts of the Human Genome Project have revealed the sequence of the billions of bases in our chromosomes. However, how these very long molecules fold in 3D space, and how this folding allows our genes to be expressed at the right time and place, still eludes us. We are currently trying to generate 3D maps of the human genome to identify gene neighborhoods. This should allow us to understand the rules that govern gene function, and to predict how a cell might respond during disease, or aging.

Pictures (top left to right): RNA FISH (from Papantonis et al., PLoS Biol, 2010); illustration of transcription factories (from Larkin et al., NAR, 2013); the CMMC building (by A.P.).