- Otto-Warburg-Laboratory (independent research groups)
The independent research groups at the MPIMG
Especially accomplished young scientists and researchers can pursue their own research program in an Independent Max Planck Research Group that runs for a limited period of time. The groups are responsible for their own budget, provided by different sources (MPG, BMBF, DFG).The Independent Max Planck Research Groups at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics are summarized as "Otto-Warburg Laboratory", named in honor of the biochemist and 1931 Nobel-price laureate for Medicine, Otto Heinrich Warburg (1883-1970).
Despite their constant genome sequence cells of multicellular organisms have different morphologies and functions due to the execution of distinct gene ex- pression programs. In this context, transcriptional regulation is very important, as it controls the production rate of mRNAs, which together with the degradation rate determines the steady state level of mRNAs. Transcriptional control depends on the action of transcription factors, which bind to distinct DNA sequences in so-called cis
-regulatory elements. These binding events in turn influence the re- cruitment and activity of RNA polymerases.
Recent high-throughput sequence projects have shown that thousands of long non-coding transcripts are actively transcribed from the human genome, as well as from other organisms. Our research goal is to identify new non-coding RNA genes and investigate their contribution to gene regulatory networks in both high eukaryotes and bacteria. Although a lot of progress has been done in elucidating the function of some RNA classes, e.g. microRNAs, several mechanisms of regulations, as well as other non-coding RNA functions remain unknown.
The Mayer Lab is focused on understanding the key regulatory mechanisms that drive chromatin-mediated nascent transcription by RNA polymerase II in mature mammalian cells and during cellular differentiation. We are also interested in how a dysregulation of these regulatory complexities causes disease. To address these questions, we are developing and applying new quantitative genome-wide approaches in combination with bioinformatics and genetics tools.
Advances in high-throughput sequencing, combined with genome-wide mapping of chromatin modification signatures, have resulted in the identification of a large number of experimentally supported transcriptionally active long non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) in multiple experimental systems. Through these sequencing efforts thousands of long ncRNAs displaying tissue specific expression have been identified. Long ncRNAs have been described in processes of gene silencing such as X-inactivation, imprinting and dosage compensation. Recent large-scale stud- ies have demonstrated that long-range transcriptional activation is another im- portant function of long ncRNAs in mammals. The mechanisms of long ncRNA regulation are starting to emerge from pioneering work, showing the role of long ncRNAs in epigentic control, long transcriptional regulation and progression of disease. Additional, recent systems scale approaches have provided evidence of essential involvement of long ncRNAs in regulating complex networks of signal- ing pathways, and important roles in regulating the p53 pathway.
In the group "Regulatory Networks in Stem Cells", we combine quantitative measurements with mathematical modeling to investigate how gene-regulatory networks control X-chromosome inactivation and stem cell differentiation.
The Yaspo research group focuses on cancer genomics and system biology of cancer, with a translational perspective in personalized medicine. Based on NGS technologies, our interests are centered on dissecting molecular landscapes of tumors for identifying pathway components and biomarkers associated with malignancy,, and on exploring gene regulation networks operating in specific cancer entities. Onging cooperative projects address various aspects of cancer genomics in metastatic melanoma, early-onset prostate cancer, medulloblastoma, pediatric leukemia, and colorectal cancer.
Biological networks are complex and dynamic systems that enable living cells to sense and respond to changes in their immediate environment. Although the main components of biological networks have been studied in detail, it remains unclear how cells decode and integrate the signals they receive into cell fate decisions. The Cell Signaling Dynamics group combines both mathematical modeling and experimental approaches to unravel the mechanisms of molecular networks by which extrinsic and intrinsic signals control cell proliferation and differentiation at a systems level.
Many physiological processes are controlled by complex molecular mechanisms. This includes daily environmental factors such as nutrition. In order to prevent health decline and prolong the quality of life we aim to identify causal connec- tions between diet and disease, to increase the acceptance of nutritional interven- tion for the prevention of disease processes. Functional food and nutraceuticals, i.e. extracts or compounds of edible biomaterials with validated beneficial effects on human health are attracting more and more scientific and public interest. Fur
thermore, highly potent natural products may be useful to develop pharmaceutical products.