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CRC/Transregio 81 - Chromatin Changes in Differentiation and Malignancy

Collaborative Research Center/Transregional 81: Chromatin Changes in Differentiation and Malignancy

Duration: 2010 - 2018

Prof. Dr. Alexander Brehm
Department of Molecular Biology and Tumor Research
Philipps University Marburg
Hans-Meerwein-Strasse 2
35043 Marburg


Short Description

In June 2010 at the universities of Giessen, Marburg, and Rotterdam, as well as at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim, the international CRC/TRR 81 "Chromatin Changes in Differentiation and Malignancy" was established. JLU is spearheading the research; spokesman is Prof. Dr. Rainer Renkawitz (Institute of Genetics at JLU).  The research network deals with the role of chromatin in the regulation of genetic activity.  In the case of a pathological change, genes incorrectly turning on or off can have an influence on the development of tumors or other diseases.

Humans and other higher organisms possess a multitude of various cell types with large differences in their appearance and function.  Although the cells of an organism largely have identical genes, a heart muscle cell, for example, uses different genes than those of a blood cell.  Thus the activity pattern of a muscle precursor cell's genes must be transferred and modified onto further (muscle) daughter cells.  Since necessary genes in varying groups in the genome are present simultaneously, there are numerous inactive genes scattered between groups of active genes.

Inactivity is frequently transmitted via changes in the DNA (DNA methylation) and chemical modification of the DNA-packing histone (chromatin).  These modifications are the cause of epigenetics, the passing on of the activity condition onto daughter cells, and this is what CRC/TRR 81 is examining.

At JLU, not only is the Institute of Genetics (Faculty 08 - Biology and Chemistry) participating but also the Biochemical Institute and the Rudolf Bucheim Institute for Pharmacology (both Faculty 11 - Medicine).  By establishing this CRC with the participation of German and Dutch workgroups, research at an international level will be possible in order to answer very current questions of epigenetics.  Furthermore, the possibility of international exchanges, an important experience for future career possibilities, is available for doctoral students during their education.