Prof. Dr. Erich Nigg

University of Basel
Klingelbergstrasse 50 / 70
CH - 4056 Basel
Biozentrum, Room 180E Phone: +41 61 207 16 56
Curriculum Vitae

Administrative Assistant

Nadine Iberl
Biozentrum, Room 709
Phone: +41 61 207 20 66
Fax: +41 61 207 20 78


Precise interplay between STIL and PLK4 guarantees flawless cell division

When cells divide, they not only duplicate their genetic material, but also...more

Two are better than one – another checkpoint enzyme for flawless cell division

The error-free distribution of genetic material during cell division is...more

kids@science 2015 – Very young scientists at the Biozentrum

For the fourth time, the Biozentrum of the University of Basel is opening its...more

Research group Erich Nigg

The cell cycle and chromosome stability

The error-free distribution of the human genome (the chromosomes) in the course of cell division is a highly complex process. Deregulation of this process is an important cause of the genetic instability of tumor cells.

A human cell undergoing division.
Immunofluorescent microscopy makes various structures visible: chromosomes (blue), the mitotic spindle (green), and attachment points of the spindle to the chromosomes (red).

The development, growth and health of human beings require the division of billions of cells in the body. Tumor cells differ from healthy cells in that they proliferate by cell division almost without limit, misinterpret signals from neighboring cells, and penetrate various organs. These disruptive abilities are triggered by changes in the genetic material, the genome, which is organized in pairs of chromosomes. The causes of these chromosomal changes are largely unknown.

Our research group investigates the regulation of cell division, as well as the causes of chromosomal changes in tumor cells. Each healthy human cell has 46 different chromosomes in its nucleus. During the cell division cycle, these have to be duplicated and segregated correctly into the daughter cells. In contrast to healthy cells, tumor cells are usually found to contain additional copies of chromosomes or chromosomal fragments.

Regulation of cell division and distribution of the chromosomes

Our research is focused on the characterization of regulatory enzymes, known as protein kinases that play important roles in the regulation of cell division and chromosome distribution. We also study cellular structures, notably centrosomes and the mitotic spindle that are important for chromosome distribution. Understanding the molecular basis of cell division may provide new approaches to cancer therapy.


We work primarily with human cell cultures and use a combination of biochemical methods, as well as cell and molecular biology approaches. Mass spectrometry is a key method for investigating protein complexes, while high resolution fluorescence microscopy is used to study living cells.