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Epigenetics / Chromatin Chemical Biology

The regulated expression of genes underlies virtually any biological process ranging from cell differentiation and development to the onset of diseases such as cancer. The majority of this regulation takes place at the level of chromatin.
However, the mechanistic picture of this regulation is increasingly complicated by the continuous discovery of numerous regulatory elements that act in concert to dynamically control the structure/function and thus transcriptional activity of chromatin. These include reversible decorations of DNA, RNA and nuclear proteins with regulatory chemical marks, noncoding RNA transcripts, and long-range chromatin interactions.

Research Summerer © Daniel Summerer​/​TU Dortmund

While the discovery and mapping of such elements become increasingly straightforward, the understanding of their precise mechanistic functions in chromatin regulation remains largely incomplete, since detailed structural and functional studies of the involved protein-nucleic acid complexes in an unperturbed, cellular environment are hampered by a lack of suitable methodology.
Our group is focused on studying such regulatory elements in chromatin by chemical biology approaches. We devise novel strategies to reengineer and/or control basic molecular properties of nucleic acid-interacting proteins to enable novel insights into chromatin regulation. We thereby combine chemical and biological methodologies including organic synthesis and biomolecular chemistry, genetic code expansion, directed molecular evolution, imaging, and high throughput genomic analyses.
A current focus of the lab is the role of epigenetic DNA modifications in the regulation of protein-DNA complex formation in chromatin both at the local and system-wide level. To study these roles, we
1.) Evolve new classes of reader proteins that offer unconventional strategies for interrogating DNA modifications via in vitro and cellular analyses. Such readers also have the potential to be used for epigenome engineering with previously inaccessible selectivity. We further employ directed evolution strategies to study the selectivity of natural chromatin proteins for specific settings of DNA modifications on the proteome level.
2.) A second field of research is the development of novel optochemical tools that allow precise temporal and spatial control of the readers, writers and erasers of DNA modifications in cells, and thus enable dissecting the order and kinetics of downstream events that lead to altered chromatin states and transcriptional activities under normal and disease conditions.

Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dort­mund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station ("Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop "Dort­mund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dort­mund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S".

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dortmund Airport (DTM) to Dortmund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dortmund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of international flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.

The facilities of TU Dortmund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent "Technologiepark".

Site Map of TU Dortmund University (Second Page in English).