Young scientist receives PhD-prize from the German Genetics Society

PhD student of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics has been awarded the Elisabeth-Gateff-prize 2017 for her thesis

October 06, 2017

Dr. Stefanie Schöne, scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, has received the Elisabeth Gateff Prize 2017 from the German Genetics Society. The prize, endowed with 3,000 € was awarded to the young researcher at the end of September for her doctoral thesis "DNA Shape and Sequence of Binding Sites Modulate Regulation of Gene Expression by the Glucocorticoid Receptor".

Gene expression is significantly influenced by so-called transcription factors (TF). TF bind to specific sections of the DNA and thereby control the activity of nearby genes. However, the same TF can cause different levels of activity for different genes. In her doctoral thesis, Stefanie Schöne analyzed the reasons for the different levels of expression of genes controlled by TF as well as the role of the adjacent DNA sections in the fine regulation of gene expression. Schöne was able to show that the DNA sections, to which a TF binds, can assume different spatial arrangements. This, in turn, alters the three-dimensional structure of the TF itself, an effect called DNA allostery by experts. As a result, new protein interaction interfaces can emerge at the TF, where, e.g., further components of the transcriptional machinery can bind, which can influence the expression level of associated genes.

Stefanie Schöne has performed her PhD work at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin in the group of Sebastiaan Meijsing, Dept. of Computational Molecular Biology. Currently, she continues her research on the function of the glucocorticoid receptor, a hormone-dependent transcription factor that activates different genes to different degrees.

The Elisabeth-Gateff-Prize endowed with 3,000 € is sponsored by Elisabeth Gateff, the former director of the Institute of Genetics at the University of Mainz. Each year at annual conference of the German Genetics Society, a graduate student is awarded with this prize for an excellent work in the field of genetics.

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