Our laboratory combines integrated structural biology with functional genomics and computational biology to study the mechanisms of gene transcription and its regulation in eukaryotic cells. In a long-term effort, we have now arrived at a molecular-mechanistic understanding of many aspects of transcription by RNA polymerase II. In particular, we reported insights into the mechanisms of transcription initiation at promoters of protein-coding genes (Plaschka et al. Nature 2015, 2016; Nozawa et al. Nature 2017; Schilbach et al. Nature 2017). We also recently reported the molecular basis for understanding transcription regulation at the step of elongation of the mRNA chain in the promoter-proximal region (Vos and Farnung Nature 2018; Vos et al. Nature 2018) and through chromatin (Farnung Nature 2017). These processes depend on multiple phosphorylation events, and such phosphorylation may control the partitioning of RNA polymerase II between different nuclear condensates (Boehning et al., NSMB 2018). To complement the structural studies, we also developed transient transcriptome sequencing (TT-seq), which monitors RNA synthesis and regulatory enhancer landscapes at high temporal resolution (Schwalb Science 2016; Demel Mol. Syst. Biol. 2017). In recent work, we have combined functional genomics and kinetic modeling to derive kinetic insights into transcriptonal regulation genome-wide (Gressel, Schwalb et al. Leonhardt, Eick, and Cramer, eLife 2017). In my lecture I will concentrate on the most recent findings and suggest out future directions for the investigation of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of genome regulation. A focus will be on the mechanisms of chromatin opening to generate nucleosome-depleted, transcriptionally active promoter regions at the beginning of genes.
Born on February 3, 1969 in Stuttgart. Study of chemistry at the Universities of Stuttgart and Heidelberg. Research student at the University of Bristol (UK) and Cambridge (UK). Diploma in chemistry in 1995 at the University of Heidelberg, doctorate at the University of Heidelberg/EMBL Grenoble (France) in 1998. Predoctoral fellow in Grenoble (France) from 1995 to 1998, postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University (USA) from 1999 to 2001. Tenure-track professor of biochemistry at the University of Munich from 2001 to 2003. Professor of biochemistry at the University of Munich from 2004 to 2014. Director of the Gene Center of the University of Munich (LMU) from 2004 to 2013. Director at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry since 2014.