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Prof. Dr. Braun

Spatial regulation and dynamic control of chromatin and genome architecture

We study the functional relationships between gene expression, chromatin, and nuclear organization. Our main interest is the spatial and temporal regulation of heterochromatin, a transcriptionally inactive (silent) form of chromatin that is crucial for cellular differentiation, genome stability and chromosome organization.

We address the questions what factors contribute to heterochromatin regulation, how do they cooperate, and what are the molecular mechanisms by which they shape and control heterochromatin.

For this, we employ genetics and functional genomics to identify novel factors and assign them to functional pathways and regulatory networks. Using live-cell imaging, molecular biology and biochemistry, we further seek to understand the underlying mechanisms of regulation. As a model, we employ the model system fission yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe). This unicellular organism has the advantage of sharing conserved heterochromatin hallmarks with metazoans, while its small genome can be easily manipulated and allows us applying robot-assisted screens and other advanced genomics tools.

We are part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) "Cell2Cell" that investigates how cell-to-cell heterogeneity in chromatin structure promotes adaptation to changes in the environment.