While the core building blocks of our DNA, RNA and proteins were characterized decades ago, recent research has unraveled a remarkable diversity of chemical modifications that modify the coding properties of bases in DNA and RNA and the amino acids of a protein. Such chemical groups are often dynamic, e.g. bases can be methylated and demethylated, providing a reversible gene-regulation mechanism.
Our aim is to identify writers, readers and erasers of such marks and to gain understanding of their biological relevance. We are particularly interested in the reprogramming of the human genome in meiosis and in the preimplantation embryo. Moreover, key mechanisms for gene-regulation in these early stages of a new life might also be critical for understanding cancer development.
Our current studies also include several novel models for post-translational modifications in RNA. The reversible nature of some chemical modifications of RNA is a very recent discovery. Most of our studies rely on novel mutants in various model organisms.
We collaborate with excellent national groups, and also research groups in China, Holland, UK and USA. Our research group, and our Institute, are truly international with 70% international PhD students and post doctoral fellows. These include Spain, Sweden, Germany, Ethiopia, UK, USA, China and France.