Research at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPIMG) concentrates on understanding function and regulation of the genome in important processes of embryonic development, tissue differentiation, organ formation, and etiology of disease. The focus is on the human genome. The scientists work with automated methods and high-throughput technologies for a systematic analysis of genes and genomes and use a number of different models. The analysis and interpretation of the results is done using computational methods, the close connection of experimental and computational methods is one of the main features of many departments and groups at the MPIMG.
Embryogenesis, differentiation, tissue homeostasis and many processes in the adult organism relate to stem cells and progenitor cells, which give rise to a myriad of different cell types, tissues and organs. For this to happen, cells have to take different fates and have to change the readout of their genome. For instance, a muscle cell shows a different genome readout than a bone cell or a neural cell. This regulation of cell-type specific genome readouts involves thousands of regulatory genes, many of which differ between different cell types. Many of these are protein coding, others encode regulatory RNAs. Together they form complex regulatory networks. Mutations affecting single genes, gene expression or gene control can lead to disease.