Research interests

We combine molecular/cell biology and biophysics to investigate the relation between DNA organization and cell function. In the cell nucleus the negatively charged DNA is wrapped around small positively charged histone proteins to form a nucleoprotein complex referred to as chromatin. The conformation and dynamic properties of chromatin determine the access to the DNA sequence information and control many activities of the cell. Thus, the chromatin state can be regarded as a key factor for selecting the active gene expression program. Accordingly, it determines functional cell states like proliferation, differentiation, senescence or apoptosis and selects between metabolic activities. Within the group both in vivo and in vitro experiments are being conducted using for example fluorescence spectroscopy/microscopy as well as atomic force microscopy and analytical ultracentrifugation to elucidate mechanisms of chromatin assembly, the control of the dynamic chromatin conformation or DNA accessibility changes. Furthermore, various approaches to the modeling and quantitative descriptions of these processes are being developed.
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Methods applied

Fluorescence microscopy/spectroscopy; Live cell imaging; Assembly of macromolecular complexes in vitro; Analytical ultracentrifugation; Computer simulations