German-French Bachelor & Master/PhD Degree Program in
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Principle Investigators


Dr. Andreas Beck
(Pharmakologie und Toxikologie - ZHMB)
Office
Universitätsklinikum, Geb. 46
D-66421 Homburg, Saar
Germany

+49 6841 16 26422
Email Website
Research Synopsis
We are interested in studying properties and functions of ion channels in cellular membranes. In the center of our interest are the transient receptor potential proteins (TRPs), a family of cation channels shown to be involved in membrane depolarization and calcium signaling in many cell types. Since the first member was found in photoreceptor cells of Drosophila melanogaster, plenty of homologues were detected in all kinds of animal species, even in yeast. Most TRP channels act as physiological sensors in response to physical or chemical environmental changes. According to their structural homology they are divided into seven groups of which the TRPC (canonical), TRPM (melastatin-receptor) and TRPV (vanilloid-receptor) proteins are the most abundant. At the moment our focus lies on the group of TRPC proteins. To reach our goals, we are using diverse molecular techniques (e.g. PCR, western-blot), fluorescent calcium imaging, whole-cell patch clamp and further functional assays.

Prof. Dr. Hubert Becker
(University of Strasbourg - Institut de Physiologie et de Chimie Biologique)
Office
21, rue René Descartes
67084
France

+33368851470
Email Website
Private
France
Research Synopsis
Our group’s main research interest is to identify the macromolecules that participate to various metabolic crosstalks across species ranging from bacteria to Saccharomyces cerevisiae and human. A special focus is on the molecules and complexes from the translational machinery on which our group has been working on for a decade. We recently discovered that, in yeast, proper expression of the mitochondrial OXPHOS system depends on a cytosolic complex (AME) made of two aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs), methionyl- (cMRS) and glutamyl-tRNA synthestase (cERS) attached to the anchor protein Arc1p. When yeast cells adapt to respiration the glucose-sensing pathway inhibits Arc1p expression triggering simultaneous release of cERS and cMRS. Free cMRS and cERS relocate to the nucleus and mitochondria to synchronize nuclear transcription and mitochondrial translation of respiratory complex III and ATP synthase genes. Strains asynchronously releasing the two aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases display aberrant expression of nuclear and mitochondrial genes encoding subunits of these two complexes resulting in severe defects of the oxidative phosphorylation mechanism. We are now pursuing this study by trying to identify and study new partners involved in coordinating expression of enzymes that behest intergenomic controls.

Dr. Markus Bischoff
(Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie und Hygiene)
Office
Kirrbergerstrasse 1
66421 Homburg
Germany

+49 6841 1623963
Email Website
Research Synopsis
The gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen and a common cause of a number of life-threatening infections such as endocarditis, osteomyelitis, and sepsis. By using genetic, biochemical and biophysical approaches, our group studies the adhesive, invasive and immune modulating properties of epidemiologically prevalent German and African S. aureus isolates. Additionally, we are interested in characterizing the regulatory network controlling virulence determinant production in this versatile pathogen, with a special focus on regulators that link virulence factor synthesis with central carbon metabolism. Detailed information about our current research topics can be found at http://www.staph.de.

Prof. Dr. Veit Flockerzi
(Experimentelle und Klinische Pharmakologie und Toxikologie)
Office
Kirrberger Str 100/ Geb. 46
66421 Homburg
Germany

+49 6841 16 26400
Email Website
Research Synopsis
Our group is working on the function, regulation and pharmacology of TRP-cation channels, especially TRPC1 and TRPC6 using protein-analytical approaches including high resolution mass spectrometry, gene targeting and various functional assays. In a second line of research we study the functions of the voltage gated Ca channel’s auxiliary subunits Cavbeta2, Cavbeta3 and Cavbeta4. We have generated various transgenic models which allow in depth analyses of Cavbeta functions including potential roles in fibroblast activity, heart failure and neurodegeneration. Our studies are currently funded by various extramural funding lines including the collaborative research centre 894 (Ca-Signaling: Molecular Mechanisms und Integrative Functions), Clinical research Unit 196 (Signal transduction of adaptive and maladaptive cardial remodeling), the research training group 1326 (Ca-Signaling and Cellular Nanodomains) and the international research training school 1830 (Complex membrane proteins in cellular development and disease), all funded by German Research Foundation.

Prof. Dr. Volkhard Helms
(Computational Biology)
Office
Center for Bioinformatics, Geb. E 2 1, Saarland University
66041 Saarbruecken
Germany

+49 681 302 70701
Email Website
Research Synopsis
Our group develops and applies algorithms, methods and simulation techniques from the areas of bioinformatics and computational biophysics. We have particular interests in the association processes of proteins as well in the interaction of proteins with DNA and membranes. Here, we employ molecular and Brownian dynamics simulations methods. Also, we statistically analyze the composition of binding interfaces. In the area of membrane bioinformatics, we focus on the analysis and substrate annotation of membrane transporters. We have developed tools to orient transmembrane helices with respect to the lipid bilayer, to predict the topology of TM beta-barrel proteins, and to analyze pores in protein structures. By analyzing gene-expression data and DNA methylation data, we study gene-regulatory networks and epigenetic modifications connected to stem-cell differentiation and cancerogenesis. We have a special interested in the role of imprinted genes. Finally, we are interested in understanding the mechanisms leading to bacterial resistance in Staphyloccus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Prof. Dr. Markus Hoth
(Immunology and Biophysics)
Office
Building 58, Kirrberger St. 58
66421
Germany

+49 6841 1626266
Email Website
Private
Research Synopsis
Our group analyzes signal transduction in different immune cells. A special focus is on physiological and pathophysiological human immune cell function including work on T helper cells, CTL and NK killer cells and macrophages. We analyze calcium signaling in T cells, including work on STIM1- and STIM2-gated CRAC/ORAI ion channels, mitochondrial calcium homeostasis and local calcium signaling at the immune synapse and subsequent calcium dependent processes and cell migration. Molecular mechanisms and killing efficiency of CTL and NK-dependent killing of different tumor cell models are studied. To do this in a quantitative way, we have developed several (so far unpublished) novel real-time killing assays, both on single cell level and for population measurements. We also have a special focus on different aspects of redox signaling, and in particular on feedback mechanisms between redox and calcium signaling. In addition, we work on a novel form of Coenzyme Q10, its redox properties and calcium binding and transport properties. We are currently moving with part of the lab into tumor immunology and are establishing several immune-tumor models including one for melanoma.

Prof. Dr. Catherine Isel
(Architecture et Réactivité de L'ARN)
Research Synopsis
Seasonal flu is responsible for the death of 250 000 to 500 000 people each year. There are three types of flu viruses: A, B and C. Flu cases are due to type B and mainly type A viruses, the latter ones being occasionally at the origin of severe pandemics, like the Spanish flu pandemic (1918-1920, 30 to 100 millions death), the Asian (1957, 1 to 4 millions death) and the Hong-Kong one (1968, 1 million death) and more recently the Mexican one (2009, 18 000 death). Influenza viruses belong to the orthomyxoviridae family. Their negative strand genomic RNA is made of 7 (in the case of influenza C viruses) or 8 (in the case of influenza A and B viruses) segments of which one copy is packaged into infectious viral particles.
 A fragmented genome is advantageous for the virus from an evolutionary point of view, since it favours the process of genetic reassortment (i.e. exchange of genetic material) between viruses that co-infect the same cell) but it undeniably complicates packaging. More and more evidence in the past years point towards a selective packaging mechanism, driven by specific packaging signals that hare harboured by each viral RNA segment. Our aim is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that allow selective packaging of one copy of each RNA fragments as well as those regulating the genetic reassortment events that can occur between two or more influenza A viruses that infect the same cell. We have recently shown that the 8 genomic RNAs of influenza A viruses can form, in vitro, a supramolecular assembly that is maintained by direct vRNA/vRNA interactions. We have demonstrated that such interactions are important for efficient viral replication and for the co-packaging of interacting vRNA partners. We have also evidence that the genetic reassortment process between two (or more) viruses is not only limited by incompatibilities at the protein level, but also by sub-optimal compatibilities between packaging signals. From our work, we might ultimately be able to infer which reassortment events can, or cannot, occur in nature.

Prof. Dr. Frank Kirchhoff
(Molecular Physiology)
Office
Building 58
66421 Homburg
Germany

+49 6841 1626489
Email Website
Research Synopsis
Our research focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of neuron-glia interaction in the central nervous system. We are pursuing two main research questions: 1. How do glial transmitter receptors sense and modulate synaptic transmission? 2. How do glial cells respond to acute injuries within the central nervous system? For functional analysis we generated (and are still continuing to develop) transgenic mouse models with cell-type specific expression of various fluorescent proteins (FPs) and inducible gene deletion. We are applying a combination of biochemical and molecular biological methods together with imaging techniques such as two-photon laser-scanning microscopy (2P-LSM) or CCD imaging.

Prof. Dr. Roy Lancaster
(Department of Structural Biology - ZHMB)
Office
Saarland University, Faculty of Medicine Building 60
66421 Homburg
Germany

+49 6841 16 26235
Email Website
Research Synopsis
Goal of the research activities of the Department of Structural Biology is to understand the function and mechanism of action of membrane proteins and membrane protein complexes on the basis of accurately determined three-dimensional structures. Directed towards this goal,we employ molecular biological, biochemical, biophysical, theoretical, and, in particular, crystallographic methods. To date, projects have been focusing on bacterial membrane protein complexes of photosynthesis and bioenergetics. Increasingly, we are working on eukaryotic membrane proteins. and are expanding the range of projects to proteins involved in other membrane transport processes and in signaling.

Prof. Dr. Alain Lescure
(Régulations post-transcriptionnelles et nutrition)
Office
15 rue René Descartes
67084 Strasbourg
France

+33 388 41 71 06
Email Website
+33 388 35 63 61
+33 631 21 23 46
Research Synopsis
We are interested to understand the impact of nutrition on oxidative homeostasis and control. Our goal is to develop an integrative model – from the molecule to the whole organism – to study the physiological response and the mechanisms of regulation related to oxidative stress response. The maintenance of a reductive-oxidative (redox) equilibrium status within the cell involves multiple pro- and antioxidative factors: the first are constituted by a large diversity of stress-inducing factors (xenobiotic, radiation, environmental changes…); the second involve intracellular defense systems, mostly enzymes (catalase, superoxide dismutase…). Nutrients such as vitamins and trace elements directly participate to the control of redox equilibrium. Inadequate intake results in various diseases always related to an elevated oxidative status. Selenium, one of the trace elements involved in oxidative stress defense, is the subject of our investigations. Specifically incorporated into a family of proteins as a selenocysteine residue, it confers increased nucleophilic and reductive reactivities. Nevertheless the knowledge concerning the function of these seleno-enzymes and their contribution to the global redox homeostasis remain still partial. For a decade our lab is involved in the discovery and characterization of selenium containing proteins. Undertaken searches focus more particularly on the Selenoprotein N (SelN), previously identified in the unit. SelN was the first selenium cont

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Dr. Veronika Lukacs-Kornek
(Research group Lukacs-Kornek)
Office
Kirbergerstr 100, Building. 77
66424, Homburg
Germany

+49 6841 16 23299
Email Website
Research Synopsis
Stromal cells in secondary lymphoid organs (SLOs) maintain the structure of SLOs and at the same time they exert critical effects on the migration and homeostasis of immune cells. Stromal cells, similar to SLOs, have been identified in the liver. Prof. Lukacs-Kornek`s laboratory aims to study the phenotypic and functional characteristics of stromal cells and their interaction with various immune cells during chronic liver inflammation and hepatocarcinogenesis. Additionally, the laboratory is focusing on how stromal cells in SLOs and in non-lymphoid organs differ regarding their immunoregulatory properties. Prof. Lukacs-Kornek received the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award in 2012 supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. http://www.humboldt-foundation.de/web/skp-2012.html

Dr. Franck Martin
(IBMC UPR 9002 “Architecture et Réactivité des ARN”)
Office
15 rue René Descartes
F-67084 STRASBOURG Cedex
France

+33388602218
Email Website
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Franck_Martin2
Research Synopsis
Our research topic is focused on translation initiation in higher eukaryotes. We recently discovered a novel translation initiation mechanism that is used to produce the large amounts of histone H4 required for genome replication. Two structural elements, located in the coding region, are used to position the ribosome directly on the AUG start codon without any scanning step. This novel mechanism is further investigated in our laboratory. We use molecular biology, biochemistry and cell biology techniques combined with cryo Electronic Microscopy and Mass spectrometry approaches. Other mRNA that are translated by non-canonical translation mechanisms are also studied in our team.

Dr. Stefano Marzi
(Bacterial mRNAs and regulatory RNAs)
Office
15 Rue René Descartes
67084 Strasbourg
France

+33 388 417051
Email Website
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stefano_Marzi?ev=hdr_xprf
Research Synopsis
In bacteria, translational control endows rapid adaptation to environmental changes and the establishment of virulence responses. The efficiency of protein synthesis is determined at the initiation step when the ribosome recognizes the mRNA start site. mRNA structures modulate this process responding to a variety of regulators including metabolites, non-coding RNAs and proteins. We have recently shown that Escherichia coli ribosomal protein S1 is an RNA chaperone which guides the mRNA into the ribosome decoding center. This essential protein provides dynamic properties to the E. coli ribosome to recognize any type of mRNA structures and its activities are the target of different mechanisms of regulation. Using high-throughput sequencing techniques (comparative transcriptomics and ribosome profiling analysis), we are now investigating the direct contribution of E. coli S1 in translation regulation. Albeit S1 is highly conserved, Staphylococcus aureus S1 is much shorter and not found associated to the ribosome. We have recently shown that S. aureus ribosomes could not efficiently translate structured mRNAs in vitro. We are now trying to identify the factors that facilitate the translation of structured mRNAs in the pathogenic S. aureus. The impact of these factors on bacterial growth, stress response and virulence will be studied. The study of evolutionary aspects of translation initiation and regulation may pave the way for the development of novel antibiotics.

Prof. Dr. Jens Mayer
(Mobile DNA elements)
Office
Medical Faculty, Human Genetics, Building 60
66421 Homburg
Germany

+49-6841-1626627
Email Website
Research Synopsis
We study mobile DNA elements in the human and other genomes. Mobile DNA, comprising ca. 45% of the human genome, played a significant role in shaping the genome's structure and functions. We studied in recent years in more detail so-called human endogenous retroviruses (HERV); retroviral elements that integrated into the genomes of ancestral species millions of years ago. Probably all vertebrate species harbor endogenous retroviruses. The human genome harbors ca. 8% of sequences with retroviral origin. ERVs also had a great impact on the host genome due to formation of sometimes thousands of additional copies thereby inserting numerous coding and transcription-relevant sequences into the genome. HERV sequences are of biological and clinical interest regarding (i) their effects on transcription of neighbouring cellular genes or when encoding retrovirus-like proteins, and (ii) their potential role(s) in human disease. We address various aspects of HERV biology: evolution following initial germ line integration, actual status in the human genome, protein coding capacity, transcription and potential involvement in human diseases. We employ various molecular biology and bioinformatics-based methods to study the biology of HERVs.
Please see these selected publications for further information.

Prof. Dr. Eckart Meese
(Human Genetics)
Office
Kirrberger Strasse
66421 Homburg
Germany

06841/16-26038
Email Website
Research Synopsis
The general research focus of the Institute of Human Genetics at the Saarland University is the genetics of human tumors. One project is concerned with short RNA molecules (microRNAs) and their role as blood born biomarkers. Specifically, this research aims to developing molecular profiles that allow early recognition of disease development and monitoring of the treatment response as part of personalized medicine. In addition, microRNA signatures are developed to identify regulatory networks in human tumors including tumor subtypes. The second research focus is on copy number changes of specific genes during tumor development. Both research fields are analyzed in close collaboration with the Centrum for Bioinformatics specifically with the groups of Profs. Andreas Keller and Hans-Peter Lenhof. An independent research group, which is headed by Prof. Jens Mayer studies human endogenous retroviruses. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft supports four of the research projects with specific grants. Two projects are supported by the European Union.

Prof. Dr. Christopher G. Mueller
(RANK and cutaneous immunology)
Office
15 rue René Descartes
67084 Strasbourg
France

+33 (0)3 88 41 71 14
Email Website
http://www-ibmc.u-strasbg.fr/ict/index.php
Research Synopsis
My research team performs investigative and applied biomedical research in immunology. The team comprises 4 permanent staff (3 reserachers and one technician), 1 PostDoc, 2 PhD students, 1 master student and 1 research associate. Our work is organized into two axes: 1) Stroma and the regulation of the immune response (principal investigator: Christopher Mueller). Immune stroma is the ensemble of tissue-forming cells (fibroblasts, endothelial cells, nerve cells etc.) that interact with immune cells. In this emerging theme of immunology, we study the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating the immune response via stroma. We want to apply our knowledge to the treatment of auto-immune diseases. 2) Function of human skin dendritic cells (principal investigators: Evelyne Schaeffer and Vincent Flacher). We perform fundamental and applied reseach on human dendritic cells in order to explore and exploit their function in the regulation of immunity versus tolerance. Here we focus on the human skin and on viral diseases such as HIV and Dengue.

Prof. Dr. Uli Müller
(Zoologie/Physiologie-Neurobiologie)
Office
Uni Campus B2 1
D-66123 Saarbrücken
Deutschland

+49 681 302 2412
Email Website
Research Synopsis
Memory formation is strongly influenced by the training procedure, and factors like stress, motivation, satiation, circadian rhythm, and many others. Our group aims to identify and characterise basic molecular mechanisms that mediate these interactions. Since the molecular processes underlying learning and memory formation range from seconds to many days our studies include fast transient posttranslational modifications as well as transcriptional regulation. In particular we focus on epigenetic processes (histone modifications) and their role as mediators linking the physiological status with learning and memory formation.

Prof. Dr. Matteo Negroni
(Retrovirus and molecular evolution lab)
Office
15 rue René Descartes
67084 Strasbourg Cedex
France

+33 3 88417006
Email Website
Research Synopsis
Our laboratory in interested in the processes of molecular evolution in retroviruses. Our researches are developed along two main axes. One is the understanding of the molecular mechanisms that allow HIV-1 to conciliate the opposite forces of antigenic variation (that is favoured for immune escape) and retention of functionality levels essential for preserving infectivity. This is made possible by the existence of a complex network of coevolving residues in the viral proteins. We study this network to get insights into the structural arrangement and the functional requirements of these proteins in the context of infection in tissue culture. For the second topic, the ability of HIV to generate genetic diversity is exploited for biotechnological purposes in order to obtain variants of cell genes of interest for biomedical purposes. This is achieved through a new approach of evolution in cell culture, recently developed in the laboratory, relying on the use of lentiviral vectors. Genes involved in the sensitisation of cancer cells to anticancer treatments are the main focus of our work.

Dr. Sebastian Pfeffer
()

Dr. Joern Pütz
(Université de Strasbourg - Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (CNRS))
Office
15 rue René Descartes
67084 Strasbourg
France

+33 3 88 41 70 48
Email Website
Research Synopsis
We investigate structure/function relationships of two key partners in protein biosynthesis namely tRNAs and aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs), with a major interest for human mitochondrial systems. Major objectives are: (i) access to fundamental knowledge, and (ii) understanding of the molecular mechanisms responsible for human neurodegenerative disorders, correlated with point mutations in mt tRNA genes. Structural studies on human mt tRNAs or in vitro transcripts are performed in solution, using enzymatic and chemical probes. The goal is to define the tertiary interactions responsible for tRNA 3D folding, and are believed to be alternate from those established within canonical tRNAs. The strategy involves also search for co-variations.

Dr. Michael Ryckelynck
(Digital Biology of RNA - UPR 9002 - IBMC)
Office
15 rue René Descartes
67084 Strasbourg
France

Email
Research Synopsis
Our group develops tools and methodologies to study RNA in high throughput regimes and with a digital resolution (i.e. sensitivity down to single cell or single molecule). Reaching such resolutions requires a strong reduction of the volume that is made possible by using microfluidics. Our core technology relies on droplet-based microfluidics and consists in compartmentalizing chemical and biological reactions in picoliters droplets produced and analyzed at rates of several thousands per second. This technology makes possible performing complex screenings in which each individual gene of a library can be isolated and expressed into a droplet. Droplets are then sorted based on the properties (e.g. fluorescence, activity…) of their content and genes coding for the molecules of interest are recovered and analyzed in high throughput regimes using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Illumina platforms. We recently used this methodology to successfully isolate new catalytic and fluorogenic RNAs having unrivaled performances. Other projects in the group include high throughput gene expression analysis using NGS and imaging approaches. Our methodologies are highly multidisciplinary and we are always happy to consider applications from highly motivated students interested to be involved in the development of biotechnologies and with a robust background in biochemistry, molecular biology, physics or programming.

Prof. Dr. Claude Sauter
(Mitochondrial translation and pathologies)
Office
IBMC - CNRS - 15 rue R. Descartes
67084 Strasbourg
France

+33 388 417 102
Email Website
http://www-ibmc.u-strasbg.fr/arn
Research Synopsis
Our research is focussed on the interactions between proteins and nucleic acids and my main investigation tools are biochemistry, X-ray crystallography and biophysics.
In the team Mitochondrial translation and pathologies we study key actors of protein synthesis in higher eukaryotes (plants, mammals and human): tRNAs and tRNA binding enzymes like aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases or RNase P.
3D images obtained by crystallography and complementary biophysical and biochemical data help us understand how these biomolecules interact, how they perform specific biological tasks in the cell and how mutations can affect their function.
In paralell with these biological investigations, we develop advanced crystallization methods to facilitate the preparation of biomolecular crystals required for X-ray diffraction analyses. This crystallogenesis activity includes the promotion of convection-free media and the design of dedicated microfluidic chips for miniaturized crystallization and automated crystal characterization using synchrotron radiation.

Prof. Dr. Joseph Schacherer
(Intraspecific variation and genome evolution)
Office
28 rue Goethe
67083 Strasbourg
France

+ 33 368 851961
Email Website
Private
France
Research Synopsis
Genome sequences of multiple individuals are essential to determine the forces shaping sequence variation as well as to understand the relationship between genotype and phenotype. Because of their wide ecological, geographical and genetic diversity, yeast species represent an ideal model system for population genomics. Recently, we were interested in characterizing the genetic diversity within yeast species such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces kluyveri. We are currently exploring the intraspecific diversity using large collections of yeast isolates of different species. These large-scale polymorphism surveys increase our understanding of the population structures as well as the evolutionary history of the species. In addition, these resources represent a powerful framework for dissecting the relationship between genotype and phenotype.

Prof. Dr. Remy Schlichter
(Nociception & Pain)
Office
21, rue Rene Descartes
67084 Strasbourg cedex
France

+33 3.68.85.14.53.
Email
Private
France
Research Synopsis
Our group is interested in the integration and modulation of nociceptive information in the dorsal horn (DH) of the spinal cord. To this end, we use patch-clamp recording techniques on acute spinal cord slices and on cultures of DH tissue from postnatal animals (rat, mouse) as well as calcium imaging and immunohistochemical approaches. Our major focus is on the role of inhibitory interneurons releasing GABA or/and glycine and on cholinergic interneurons. We are currently studying the modulation as well as the short and long term plasticity (LTP, LTD) of inhibitory transmission in superficial and deep DH laminae by endogenously produced messengers (classical neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, neurosteroids, lipid messengers). Our aims are also to elucidate the structure and the functional properties of the neuronal networks underlying nociceptive integration in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord with particular emphasis on the role of interlaminar communications between superficial and deep laminae and on the interaction between neurons and glial cells. These aspects are studied in naive animals as well as in inflammatory and neuropathic pain conditions.

Prof. Dr. Manfred J. Schmitt
(Molecular & Cell Biology)
Office
Uni Campus A 1.5
66123 Saarbrücken
Deutschland

+49 681 302 4730
Email Website
Research Synopsis
Our workgroup is part of the Center of Human and Molecular Biology (Zentrum für Human- und Molekularbiologie, ZHMB) of Saarland University. Our research focusses on microbial and viral A/B toxins and their uptake, intracellular transport and mode of operation within yeast and mammalian cells. In addition to these fundamental biomedical research topics we concentrate on application-oriented research projects in the scope of live cell and particle vaccination, novel antimycotica and screening systems for potential tumor inhibitors in humans. We take part in the DFG Priority Program 1365 "Ubiquitin Family Network", the international graduate school IRTG 1830 "Membrane Proteins in Disease and Development" and the Special Research Program SFB 1027 "Physical modeling of non-equilibrium processes in biological systems".

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Martin Simon
(Molecular Cellular Dynamics)
Office
Campus A2 4, Room 002
66123 Saarbrücken
Germany

+49 681 302 4938
Email
Research Synopsis
We are interested in small RNA controlled gene expression during vegetative growth and in particular the epigenetic inheritance of these expression states to sexual progeny. Small RNA molecules mediate chromatin modifications in a homology dependent manner and are therefore responsible for the local formation of heterochromatin and silencing of gene expression. We study the underlying mechanisms in Paramecium tetraurelia investigating key enzymes of the RNAi pathway, the resulting small RNAs, and associated chromatin modifications in relation to transcriptional activity of individual genes. To analyze these mechanisms we focus in the analysis of small RNA synthesis and stabilization as well as in chromatin analysis by ChIP and ChIP-sequencing. A deeper understanding of these mechanisms provides new insights in environmental adaptation mechanisms as small RNAs are also responsible for the transfer of information to sexual progeny thus providing important mechanisms for inheritance of acquired characters such as alterations of gene expression. In this particular case we analyse the expression and inheritance of serotypes, representing an important mechanism of gene expression and silencing controlled by trans-acting siRNAs which enable fast phenotypic alterations by dynamic chromatin remodeling during vegetative growth.

Prof. Dr. Jörn Erik Walter
(Genetics/Epigenetics)
Office
Campus A 2.4
66123 Saarbrücken
Germany

+49 681 302 4367
Email Website
Research Synopsis
DNA methylation is an essential epigenetic signal for gene expression. Changes in DNA-Methylation cause abnormal cell programs linked to many human diseases such as cancer and complex disorders.
Our research aims to understand the molecular principles of epigenetic control by DNA methylation and its biomedical relevance for the human.
Epigeneomics
In several EU, DFG and BMBF funded projects we apply state of the art technologies such as whole genome bisulfite sequencing and ChIP-Seq technologies using in house next generation sequencers (HiSeq2500 and MiSeq) to produce high resolution epigenome maps and interpret their biological function.
Repogramming
Using micromanipulation technologies and high resolution microscopy we study the mechanisms of epigenetic reprogramming in early mouse development to understand the basic principles of stem cell formation and pluripotency.
If you are interested to learn more about our interdisciplinary research in epigenetics please go to http://epigenetik.uni-saarland.de/en/research/