Research group Attila Becskei
Researching the principles that control gene regulatory circuits
Investigation of how genes in yeast and mammalian cells are wired up and which mechanisms control these gene networks will help understand cell differentiation. For this, we combine experimental methods with mathematical modeling.
Small scale genetic networks often rely on feedback control and chromosomal epigenetic processes to regulate cell decision and differentiation.
Feedback regulation of adaptation
We develop mathematical models that help us design experiments for assessing the robustness of feedback regulation that play a role in adaptation and cellular memory.
Control principles in chromosomal epigenetic silencing
Epigenetic silencing - the "turning off" of a gene by mechanisms others than genetic modifications - plays a crucial role in cellular differentiation. Our recent work unraveled spatial aspects in the control of epigenetic silencing in yeast cells using a combination of genetic engineering and single cell measurements of gene expression. The distribution of binding sites that recruit silencing proteins to the chromosome is a key determinant whether gene expression will support cellular differentiation or not. The most efficient differentiation is evoked when binding sites are distributed symmetrically around a gene.
Classification of genetic differentiation mechanisms in mammalian cells
Higher eukaryotic organisms often employ epigenetic silencing to pack genes into the transcriptionally inactive heterochromatin, a compact form of DNA. We plan to study the epigenetic mechanisms in mammalian cells. For this purpose, we will also use chromatin immunoprecipitation and conformation capture methods. The results will help understand cell differentiation and facilitate tissue engineering.