Tone Tønjum's group: Unit for Genome Dynamics

The Genome Dynamics group main focus is studying the mechanisms involved in the changing and maintenance of genomes in both microbes and man, and the effect this has on function and disease. This involves the study of DNA-repair mechanism in both man and microbes and the study of horizontal gene transfer in microbes.

The stability of microbial genomes and gene pools is constantly challenged by horizontal gene transfer and recombination, as well as DNA damage. Mechanisms for rapid genome variation, adaptation and maintenance are a necessity to ensure microbial fitness and survival in rapidly changing environments.

Understanding microbial pathogenesis, horizontal gene transfer and DNA repair mechanisms requires an interdisciplinary approach of molecular biology, genomics and bacterial physiology. Studies on transformation and components providing genome maintenance in genetic model bacteria are most important for understanding the balance between cellular fitness for survival and disease development.

In addition to studying genome dynamics in microbes, we are also studying the impact genome dynamics has on human function and disease particularly in aging and CNS-related diseases such as Alzheimer.

At present the group addressing these challenges in molecular and cellular biology and medicine includes 16 people and has strong international networks.

Unit for Genome Dynamics


Healthy Brain Ageing
DNA repair in ageing and Alzheimer’s disease
Genome maintenance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Tuberculosis molecular epidemiology
Inflammatory bowel disease
Transformation in Neisseria
Genome maintenance in Neisseria

News New publication: Altered DNA base excision repair profile in brain tissue and blood in Alzheimer’s disease


Background: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive, multifactorial neurodegenerative disorder that is the main cause of dementia globally. AD is associated with increased oxidative stress, resulting from imbalance in production and clearance of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS can damage DNA and other macromolecules, leading to genome instability and disrupted cellular functions. Base excision repair (BER) plays a major role in repairing oxidative DNA lesions. Here, we compared the expression of BER components APE1, OGG1, PARP1 and Polβ in blood and postmortem brain tissue from patients with AD, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and healthy controls (HC).

Results: BER mRNA levels were correlated to clinical signs and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers for AD. Notably, the expression of BER genes was higher in brain tissue than in blood samples. Polβ mRNA and protein levels were significantly higher in the cerebellum than in the other brain regions, more so in AD patients than in HC. Blood mRNA levels of OGG1 was low and PARP1 high in MCI and AD.

Conclusions: These findings reflect the oxidative stress-generating energy-consumption in the brain and the importance of BER in repairing these damage events. The data suggest that alteration in BER gene expression is an event preceding AD. The results link DNA repair in brain and blood to the etiology of AD at the molecular level and can potentially serve in establishing novel biomarkers, particularly in the AD prodromal phase.

News New publication: The Inner Membrane Protein PilG Interacts with DNA and the Secretin PilQ in Transformation


We report that the meningococcal pilus biogenesis protein PilG directly binds DNA in vitro and that thebinding is independent of the DNA uptake sequence (DUS). The affinity was mapped to the N-terminal amino acid residues 43 to 45. A reduction in DNA transformation was observed when PilG DNA binding was reduced by mutation of these residues, defining a biologically significant DNA binding domain. N-terminal PilG also interacts with the N-terminal region of PilQ, the major structural component of the pilus biogenesis machinery. These data suggest that PilG and PilQ in concert bind DNA during Type 4 pilus-mediated transformation.

News 3rd Nordic Symposium on Super-resolution microscopy & Optogenetics NSSO2015

 Time: June 4 2015 9 am - 4 pm
Venue: Domus Medica 4, L-200, University of Oslo, Norway

For registration please visit this link

Addendum: The NSSO2015 symposium was immediately fully booked.


Mari Støen at
Hans Thorn at
Aphirak Juthajan at

For more information please go to the "more" link below.

News GD group, HBAC, UiO and OUH is arranging the Thon Prize Seminars

5th of Mars at 11:30 am at The Rotunda, Domus Medica 4

This is a unique seminar with the Olav Thon Foundation's International Research Awardees for Mathematics/Natural Science and Medicine 2015, Judith Campisi (Buck Institute for Research on Aging, USA) and Yossi Shiloh (Tel Aviv University, Israel). Our guest Vilhelm A. Bohr, NIH, will close the seminar with his talk.

Please see our program letter for more info, and for registration.


News GD organizes TB seminar in Ethiopia

The OUS group, Genome Dynamics (GD) and Public Health (NIPH) organized a very successful Tuberculosis meeting with colleagues from Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan January 29 to 31, 2015. The meeting "The cradle of TB" gathered 65 participants in the city Bahir-Dar in northwestern Ethiopia."
Postdoc Solomon Yimer and professor Tone Tønjum from the Unit for Genome Dynamics at the Department of Microbiology played important parts in the organization of the meeting, and gave several lectures during the seminar.
The goal is to identify the amount of tuberculosis (TB) and which sub-types of TB that exists in the region. This is the first time health workers collaborating across borders in this way. The total number of deaths from the Ebola cases in Africa, up until today, equals as many deaths from the TB cases every day in the world, so this is an important global challenge.

Link to the "Cradle of TB" seminar program