Neue Homepage des SPP1463:

Das DFG-geförderte Schwerpunktprogramm 1463 zum Thema "Epigenetische Regulation der normalen Hämatopoese und ihre Dysregulation in myeloischer Neoplasie" hat eine neue Homepage.
Unter finden Sie Informationen zum SPP 1463 und allen teilnehmenden Forschungsgruppen.
vom 16. Dezember 2011

EpiGeneSys- Network of excellence formed

The EpiGeneSys NoE is an EC funded consortium which aims to bring together the two thriving fields of epigenetics and systems biology in order to address fundamental epigenetic mechanisms in quantitative terms both spatially and temporally. The research portfolio of EpiGeneSys is centered on three broad research topics:

1. characterizing the molecular dynamics of epigenetic systems at the single molecule and cell level,
2. linking genotypes to epigenotypes,
3. investigating how environmental, developmental and metabolic signals act upon the epigenome.
vom 16. März 2011

Call for applications to the EpiGeneSys- Network of Excellence

The EpiGeneSys  - Network of Excellence,

welcomes you to apply for one of the three open EpiGeneSys calls made public on the EpiGeneSys website :

·       RISE 1 (Research Integrating Systems Biology and Epigenetics) call
for 9 young PI applicants, within their first 3 years of independence, working at the interface of biological, computational, and/or engineering sciences to produce data relevant to mathematical analyses and modelling of epigenetic mechanisms. The successful candidates will obtain a 3-year research grant of 150,000€ and full access to the network’s activities.

·      SME call
For one SMT to enlarge and strengthen the research activities of EpiGeneSys. Proposals focusing on acquisition, storage, modelling and integration of epigenetics data and on novel visualization and user guided analysis of massive biological datasets are strongly encouraged. The successful SME will obtain a 3-year research grant of 150,000€ and full access to the network’s activities.

·      Associate Call
Established scientists with an active interest in partaking in and contributing to the scientific research and non-scientific activities of this Network of Excellence are invited to apply for associate membership.
vom 16. März 2011

Das BMBF schreibt deutsches IHEC Programm aus

Das Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung BMBF hat ein Programm zur Förderung einer deutschen Beteiligung am "International Human Epigenome Consortium" ausgeschrieben. Gefördert werden sollen thematisch ausgerichtete herausragende Forschungsverbünde zur epigenomischen Kartierung und Funktionsanalyse. Dies ermöglicht es deutschen Wissenschaftlern sich an dem bedeutsamen global ausgrichteten IHEC (Internationales Humanes EpigenomConsortium) Projekt substantiell zu beteiligen. IHEC hat das Ziele die epigenetischen Programme in allen menschlichen Zellen zu entschlüsseln. Das deutsche Forschungs-Programm wird eine breite Wirkung für die biomedizinische Forschung und grundlagenorientierten und klinisch- rankheitsrelevanten Bereichen haben.
vom 7. März 2011

International human epigenome consortium IHEC formed

The deciphering of the human genome is regarded as a milestone in human history.Nevertheless, the genetic code tells us little about the effects the specific characteristics of a cell in the body.Indeed, chemical markers on the DNA and the surrounding proteins crucially determine the patterns of active genes in the nucleus.The field of epigenetics is occupied with the exploration of this programmable and automatic start-up and shutdown system.For many researchers, epigenetics is key to understanding human biology.Researchers in Paris have now agreed on the formation of an "International Human Epigenome Consortium" (IHEC).The goal is ambitious:In the years to come, researchers are hoping to determine 1000 epigenetic "fingerprints" covering every human cell type.German researchers are also looking to participate in the mammoth project.,did=109114.html?listBlId=74…
vom 23. April 2010

Saarländischer Biologentag 2010 zum Thema Epigenetik

Der Saarländische Landesverband des VDBIOL veranstaltete im Januar 2010 zusammen mit der Uni des Saarlandes einen Biologentag zum Themenschwerpunkt Epigenetik. Sprecher waren C. Plass, W. Nellen, M. Paulsen, S.Tierling und J.Walter. Die Veranstaltung stiess auf großes Interesse. Insgesamt nahmen mehr als 70 Personen (Lehrkräfte, Studenten, Interessierte) an der Veranstaltung teil.
vom 20. Januar 2010

DFG Forschergruppe “Biochemistry and biological function of Dnmt2 methyltransferases” (Kassel)

During the funding period of SPP 1129 several participants started to cooperate on DNA methylation and especially on the function of Dnmt2. Based on several joint projects and productive discussions, this group, with the support of some new colleagues has now successfully established the Forschergruppe FOR 1082 “Biochemistry and biological function of Dnmt2 methyltransferases”. Members are Ann Ehrenhofer-Murray (Univ. Duisburg-Essen), Mark Helm (Univ. Heidelberg), Serge Ankri (Technion, Haifa, Israel), Frank Lyko / Matthias Schäfer (DKFZ Heidelberg), Gunter Reuter (Univ. Halle), Albert Jeltsch (Jacobs Univ. Bremen) and Wolfgang Nellen (Univ. Kassel). Working on mammalian cell culture and the model organisms yeast, Dictyostelium, Entamoeba, Mouse and Drosophila and combining a wide variety of methods and expertise, we expect to obtain insights into the so far enigmatic function of this evolutionary highly conserved enzyme.

vom 10. Mai 2009

Neues Schwerpunktprogramm in Epigenetik ab 2010

Die DFG richtet 18 neue Schwerpunktprogramme ein. Eines der neuen Schwerpunktprogramme im Bereich Lebenswissenschaften lautet:

Epigenetic Regulation of Normal Hematopoiesis and its Dysregulation in Myeloid Neoplasia

Koordinatoren des Programms sind: Michael Lübbert, Uni Freiburg und Cristoph Plass, DKFZ Heidelberg
vom 8. Mai 2009

Portal für Epigenetik-Forschung eröffnet seine Pforten

Dieses Portal wurde mit Unterstützung der DFG als Fortführung des Schwerpunkt-programms SPP 1129 "Epigenetics" erstellt. Die Webseite soll ein virtuelles "Epigenetik-Netzwerk" im deutschsprachigen Raum schaffen und Gruppen aus Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz mit einschliessen. Wir hoffen, daß das Portal aktiv von vielen Gruppen und Interessierten genutzt wird. Registrieren sie ihre Gruppe einfach indem sie mit dem Web-administrator Kontakt aufnehmen . Sie können dann ihr Profil selbst editieren.

This website was established with the support of the German Research Council (DFG) to form a virtual "follow up" network of the priority program SPP1129 "Epigenetics".
The portal aims to serve as an information platform for epigenetics research in germany, austria and switzerland. We hope that the platform will be actively used by many users to create a web-interface which provides the many facets of epigenetics reserach.
We hope to see a broad participation of groups and intensive use of this website. Interested groups can register by sending an email to the web-administrator .
vom 23. April 2009

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHT : 6th base identified

press release from SCIENCE-Express: New nucleotide could revolutionize epigenetics

The discovery of a new nucleotide in the mouse brain opens the door to a new domain of epigenetic DNA modification

Anyone who studied a little genetics in high school has heard of adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine – the A,T,G and C that make up the DNA code. But those are not the whole story. The rise of epigenetics in the past decade has drawn attention to a fifth nucleotide, 5-methylcytosine (5-mC), that sometimes replaces cytosine in the famous DNA double helix to regulate which genes are expressed. And now there's a sixth. In experiments to be published online Thursday by Science, researchers reveal an additional character in the mammalian DNA code, opening an entirely new front in epigenetic research.

The work, conducted in Nathaniel Heintz's Laboratory of Molecular Biology at The Rockefeller University, suggests that a new layer of complexity exists between our basic genetic blueprints and the creatures that grow out of them. "This is another mechanism for regulation of gene expression and nuclear structure that no one has had any insight into," says Heintz, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "The results are discrete and crystalline and clear; there is no uncertainty. I think this finding will electrify the field of epigenetics."

Genes alone cannot explain the vast differences in complexity among worms, mice, monkeys and humans, all of which have roughly the same amount of genetic material. Scientists have found that these differences arise in part from the dynamic regulation of gene expression rather than the genes themselves. Epigenetics, a relatively young and very hot field in biology, is the study of nongenetic factors that manage this regulation.

One key epigenetic player is DNA methylation, which targets sites where cytosine precedes guanine in the DNA code. An enzyme called DNA methyltransferase affixes a methyl group to cytosine, creating a different but stable nucleotide called 5-methylcytosine. This modification in the promoter region of a gene results in gene silencing.

Some regional DNA methylation occurs in the earliest stages of life, influencing differentiation of embryonic stem cells into the different cell types that constitute the diverse organs, tissues and systems of the body. Recent research has shown, however, that environmental factors and experiences, such as the type of care a rat pup receives from its mother, can also result in methylation patterns and corresponding behaviors that are heritable for several generations. Thousands upon thousands of scientific papers have focused on the role of 5-methylcytosine in development.

The discovery of a new nucleotide may make biologists rethink their approaches to investigating DNA methylation. Ironically, the latest addition to the DNA vocabulary was found by chance during investigations of the level of 5-methylcytosine in the very large nuclei of Purkinje cells, says Skirmantas Kriaucionis, a postdoctoral associate in the Heintz lab, who did the research. "We didn't go looking for this modification," he says. "We just found it."

Kriaucionis was working to compare the levels of 5-methylcytosine in two very different but connected neurons in the mouse brain — Purkinje cells, the largest brain cells, and granule cells, the most numerous and among the smallest. Together, these two types of cells coordinate motor function in the cerebellum. After developing a new method to separate the nuclei of individual cell types from one another, Kriaucionis was analyzing the epigenetic makeup of the cells when he came across substantial amounts of an unexpected and anomalous nucleotide, which he labeled 'x.'

It accounted for roughly 40 percent of the methylated cytosine in Purkinje cells and 10 percent in granule neurons. He then performed a series of tests on 'x,' including mass spectrometry, which determines the elemental components of molecules by breaking them down into their constituent parts, charging the particles and measuring their mass-to-charge ratio. He repeated the experiments more than 10 times and came up with the same result: x was 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, a stable nucleotide previously observed only in the simplest of life forms, bacterial viruses. A number of other tests showed that 'x' could not be a byproduct of age, DNA damage during the cell-type isolation procedure or RNA contamination. "It's stable and it's abundant in the mouse and human brain," Kriaucionis says. "It's really exciting."

What this nucleotide does is not yet clear. Initial tests suggested that it may play a role in demethylating DNA, but Kriaucionis and Heintz believe it may have a positive role in regulating gene expression as well. The reason that this nucleotide had not been seen before, the researchers say, is because of the methodologies used in most epigenetic experiments. Typically, scientists use a procedure called bisulfite sequencing to identify the sites of DNA methylation. But this test cannot distinguish between 5-hydroxymethylcytosine and 5-methylcytosine, a shortcoming that has kept the newly discovered nucleotide hidden for years, the researchers say. Its discovery may force investigators to revisit earlier work. The Human Epigenome Project, for example, is in the process of mapping all of the sites of methylation using bisulfite sequencing. "If it turns out in the future that (5-hydroxymethylcytosine and 5-methylcytosine) have different stable biological meanings, which we believe very likely, then epigenome mapping experiments will have to be repeated with the help of new tools that would distinguish the two," says Kriaucionis.

Providing further evidence for their case that 5-hydroxymethylcytosine is a serious epigenetic player, a second paper to be published in Science by an independent group at Harvard reveals the discovery of genes that produce enzymes that specifically convert 5-methylcytosine into 5-hydroxymethylcytosine. These enzymes may work in a way analogous to DNA methyltransferase, suggesting a dynamic system for regulating gene expression through 5-hydroxymethylcytosine. Kriaucionis and Heintz did not know of the other group's work, led by Anjana Rao, until earlier this month. "You look at our result, and the beautiful studies of the enzymology by Dr. Rao's group, and realize that you are at the tip of an iceberg of interesting biology and experimentation," says Heintz, a neuroscientist whose research has not focused on epigenetics in the past. "This finding of an enzyme that can convert 5-methylcytosine to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine establishes this new epigenetic mark as a central player in the field."

Kriaucionis is now mapping the sites where 5-hydroxymethylcytosine is present in the genome, and the researchers plan to genetically modify mice to under- or overexpress the newfound nucleotide in specific cell types in order to study its effects. "This is a major discovery in the field, and it is certain to be tied to neural function in a way that we can decipher," Heintz says.
vom 23. April 2009