Susan M. Gasser

Group News

Feb 16, 2021
Extensive remodeling of chromatin after DNA damage
Feb 9, 2021
Interview Susan M. Gasser – Director Emeritus & Group Leader, FMI
Jan 14, 2021
Protecting the genome from transposon activation
Dec 7, 2020
Interview with Susan Gasser, FMI Director Emeritus
Oct 5, 2020
Interview Susan Gasser
All group news


Group Website
Video portrait (Inserm Prize 2011)

Susan M. Gasser

Genome organization during differentiation and stress

The Gasser lab has closed at the end of June 2021.
Susan Gasser moved to the ISREC Foundation in Lausanne.

The Gasser laboratory studies how chromatin, a complex of proteins and nucleic acids, impinges on mechanisms of DNA repair and replication, and on the epigenetic inheritance of cell fate decisions. We use high throughput time-lapse imaging to address questions of chromatin folding in living organisms. With respect to stem cell determination and epigenetic inheritance, we exploit the nematode C. elegans to study the effects of 3D chromatin organization during organismal development. We examine how the environment alters that program and we ask if these changes are epigenetically inherited from one stage of life to another. With respect to the mechanisms of repair, the budding yeast, S. cerevisiae provides a flexible genetic system that allows us to model DNA folding based on the spatial dynamics of chromosomal loci.

Specific areas of focus include:
1. Nuclear subcompartments: Transient long-range interactions within active, or potentially active, chromatin (TADs) and the more stable "condensates" of heterochromatin (LADs) drive chromatin organization in the nucleus. We use genetics to identify factors that spatially segregate large chromatin domains.
2. Chromatin dynamics in repair: Chromatin organization both protects from DNA damage and facilitates repair. We focus on dynamic changes in chromatin during repair and on the role of chromatin compaction in repeat stability.
3. Stress-induced epigenetic function: We are examining whether there is a "memory" function mediated by histone post-translational modifications that controls a stress response, enhancing organismal survival. These studies have a direct impact on the treatment of medical conditions.

Fuchs J., Cheblal A., Gasser S.M. (2021) Underappreciated Roles of DNA Polymerase δ in Replication Stress Survival

Trends in Genetics, 16 Feb 2021

Challa K, Schmid CD, Kitagawa S, Cheblal A, Iesmantavicius V, Seeber A, Amitai A, Seebacher J, Hauer MH, Shimada K, Gasser SM (2021) Damage-induced chromatome dynamics link Ubiquitin ligase and proteasome recruitment to histone loss and efficient DNA repair.

Mol Cell. 2021 Jan 28:S1097-2765(20)30940-0

Padeken J, Methot S, Zeller P, Delaney CE, Kalck V, Gasser SM (2021) Argonaute NRDE-3 and MBT domain protein LIN-61 redundantly recruit an H3K9me3 HMT to prevent embryonic lethality and transposon expression.

Genes Dev. 2021 Jan 1;35(1-2):82-101

Cheblal A, Challa K, Seeber A, Shimada K, Yoshida H, Ferreira HC, Amitai A, Gasser SM (2021) DNA Damage-Induced Nucleosome Depletion Enhances Homology Search Independently of Local Break Movement.

Mol Cell. 2020 Oct 15;80(2):311-326.e4

Forey R, Barthe A, Tittel-Elmer M, Wery M, Barrault MB, Ducrot C, Seeber A, Krietenstein N, Szachnowski U, Skrzypczak M, Ginalski K, Rowicka M, Cobb JA, Rando OJ, Soutourina J, Werner M, Dubrana K, Gasser SM, Morillon A, Pasero P, Lengronne A, Poli J (2021) A Role for the Mre11-Rad50-Xrs2 Complex in Gene Expression and Chromosome Organization.

Mol Cell. 2021 Jan 7;81(1):183-197.e6

Mattout A, Gaidatzis D, Padeken J, Schmid CD, Aeschimann F, Kalck V, Gasser SM (2020) LSM2-8 and XRN-2 contribute to the silencing of H3K27me3-marked genes through targeted RNA decay.

Nat Cell Biol. 2020 May;22(5):579-590

Harr JC, Schmid CD, Muñoz-Jiménez C, Romero-Bueno R, Kalck V, Gonzalez-Sandoval A, Hauer MH, Padeken J, Askjaer P, Mattout A, Gasser SM (2020) Loss of an H3K9me anchor rescues laminopathy-linked changes in nuclear organization and muscle function in an Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy model.

Genes Dev. 2020 Apr 1;34(7-8):560-579

Padeken J, Zeller P, Towbin B, Katic I, Kalck V, Methot SP, Gasser SM. (2019) Synergistic lethality between BRCA1 and H3K9me2 loss reflects satellite derepression.

Genes Dev. 2019 Apr 1;33(7-8):436-451

Cabianca, D.S., Munoz Jimenez, C., Kalck, V., Gaidatzis, D., Padeken, J., Seeber, A., Askjaer, P. and Gasser, S.M. (2019) Active chromatin marks drive spatial sequestration of heterochromatin in C. elegans nuclei

Nature, 569, 734-739.

Delaney, CE, Methot, SP, Guidi, M, Katic, I, Gasser, SM, Padeken, J. (2019) Heterochromatic foci and transcriptional repression by an unstructured MET-2/SETDB1 co-factor LIN-65

J Cell Biol. 218(3), 820-838

Padeken, J., Zeller, P., Towbin, B., Katic, I., Kalck, V. and Gasser, S.M (2019) Synergistic lethality between BRCA1 and H3K9me2 loss reflects satellite derepression

Genes Dev. 33(7-8), 436-451. doi: 10.1101/gad.322495.118

Marcomini, I., Shimada, K., Delgoshaie, N., Yamamoto, I., Seeber, A., Horigome, C., Naumann, U. and Gasser, S.M. (2018) Asymmetric processing of DNA ends at double-strand breaks leads to unconstrained dynamics and ectopic translocation

Cell Reports, 24(10), 2614-2628.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.07.102

Deshpande, I., Seeber, A., Shimada, K., Keusch, J.J., Gut, H., and Gasser, S.M. (2017) Structural basis of Mec1-Ddc2-RPA assembly and activation on single-strand DNA at sites of damage

Molecular Cell, 68, 431 - 445

Amitai, A., Seeber, A., Gasser, S.M.* and Holcman, D. (2017) Visualization of chromatin decompaction and break site extrusion as predicted by statistical polymer modeling of single locus trajectories

Cell Reports, 18, 1200-1214
* Lead author

Hauer, M.H., Seeber, A., Singh, V., Thierry, R., Sack, R., Amitai, A., Kryzhanovska, M., Eglinger, J., Holcman, D., Owen-Hughes, T. and Gasser, S.M (2017) Histone degradation in response to DNA damage enhances chromatin dynamics and recombination rates

Nature Struct. Mol. Biology, doi: 10.1038/nsmb.3347

Seeber, A., Hegnauer, A.M., Hustedt, N., Deshpande, I., Poli, J., Eglinger, J., Pasero, P., Gut, H., Shinohara, M., Hopfner, K-P., Shimada, K. and Gasser, S.M. (2016) RPA-mediated recruitment of MRX to forks and double-strand breaks holds sister chromatids together

Molecular Cell, 64, 951 - 966. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2016.10.032

Zeller, P., Padeken, J., van Schendel, R., Kalck, V., Tijsterman, M. and Gasser, S.M. (2016) Histone H3K9 methylation is dispensable for C. elegans development, but suppresses RNA-DNA hybrid-associated repeat instability

Nature Genetics, 48, 1385 - 1395. doi: 10.1038/ng.3672

Horigome, C., Bustard, D., Marcomini, I., Tsai-Pflugfelder, M., Cobb, J.A. and Gasser, S.M. (2016) PolySUMOylation by Siz2 and Mms21 triggers relocation of DNA breaks to nuclear pores through the Slx5/Slx8 STUbL

Genes & Dev. 30, 931-945

Poli, J., Gerhold, C.-B., Tosi, A., Hustedt, N., Seeber, A., Sack, R., Herzog, F., Pasero, P., Shimada, K., Hopfner, K-P. and Gasser, S.M. (2016) Mec1, INO80 and the PAF1 complex cooperate to limit transcription-replication conflicts through RNAPII removal during replication stress

Genes & Dev. 30, 337-354

Gonzalez-Sandoval, A., Towbin, B.D., Kalck, V., Cabianca, D.S., Gaidatzis, D.,Hauer, M.H., Geng, L., Wang, L., Yang, T., Wang,. X., Zhao, K. and Gasser, S.M. (2015) Perinuclear Anchoring of H3K9-Methylated Chromatin Stabilizes Induced Cell Fate in C. elegans embryos.

Cell, 163, 1333-1347

Hustedt H, Seeber A, Sack R, Bhupinder B, Vlaming H, van Leeuwen F, Guenole A, van Attikum H, Srivas R, Ideker T, Shimada K, Gasser SM (2015) Yeast PP4 interacts with ATR homologue Ddc2-Mec1 and regulates checkpoint signaling

Mol Cell. 55:273-289

Towbin BD, Gonzalez-Aguilera C, Sack R, Gaidatzis D, Kalck V, Meister P, Askjaer P, Gasser SM (2012) Step-wise methylation of histone H3K9 positions chromosome arms at the nuclear periphery in C. elegans embryos

Cell. 150:934-947

Dion V, Kalck V, Horigome C, Towbin BD, Gasser SM (2012) Increased dynamics of double strand breaks requires Mec1, Rad9 and the homologous recombination machinery

Nat Cell Biol. 14:502-509

Taddei A, Van Houwe G, Hediger F, Kalck V, Cubizolles F, Schober H, Gasser SM (2006) Nuclear pore association confers optimal expression levels for an inducible yeast gene

Nature 441:774-778

PhD students

Anaïs Cheblal (2016-2020)
Verena Hurst (2016-2020)
Jan Marten Schmidt (2020)
Benoît Falquet (2018-2020)
Isabella Marcomini (2012-2018)
Michael Hauer (2013-2017)
Andrew Seeber (2011-2017)
Peter Zeller (2012-2017)
Adriana Gonzalez (2011-2016)
Nicole Hustedt (2010-2014)
Sabine Rohner (2009-2013)
Mariano Oppikofer (2008-2012)
Benjamin Towbin (2007-2012)
Anna Maria Hegnauer (2005-2010)
Lutz Gehlen (2004-2009)
Shigeki Nagai (2004-2009)
Fabrizio Martino (2004-2008)
Heiko Schober (2004-2008)
Thomas Schleker (2004-2007)
Ruchi Chauhan (2006-2007)
Frank Neumann (2005)

Postdoctoral fellows

Colin Delaney (2018-2021)
Kiran Challa (2017-2020)
Stephen Methot (2017-2020)
Jeannette Fuchs (2020)
Shany Koren (2020)
Daria Monogiou Belik (2020)
Daphne Cabianca (2013-2020)
Nicolas Mercado (2018-2020)
Micol Guidi (2017-2019)
Jennifer Harr (2015-2019)
Anna Mattout (2012-2019)
Neda Delgoshaie (2015-2018)
Christian Gerhold (2013-2017)
Jerome Poli (2014-2017)
Chihiro Horigome (2010-2015)
Helder Ferreira (2007-2013)
Vincent Dion (2008-2013)
Benjamin Towbin (2012-2013)
Stephanie Kueng (2007-2012)
Thibaud Jegou (2011)
Pierre Meister (2005-2011)
Niloofar Davoodi (2007-2011)
Lutz Gehlen (2009)
Brietta Pike (2006-2009)
Elisa Varela Sanz (2004-2008)
Kenji Shimada (2004-2007)
Haico Van Attikum (2004-2007)
Angela Taddei (2004-2006)
Olivier Fritsch (2004-2006)
Fabien Cubizolles (2005-2006)
Aaron Ponti (2005)

Technical/Research associates

Kenji Shimada (2007-2021)
Cleo Tarashev (2020-2021)
Veronique Kalck (2004-2020)
Christoph Schmid (2018-2020)
Peter David Cron (2018-2020)
Monika Tsai (2004-2017)
Monique Thomas-Seldran (2004-2005)
Thierry Laroche (2004)


Saho Kitagawa (2020)
Mariya Kryzhanovska (2015-2016)
Christian Adrian Mueller (2015-2016)
Anya Wilson (2015)
Aline De Courten (2014)
Michael Hauer (2012-2013)
Fabrice Darbellay (2012)
Roger Schmid (2010-2011)
Alma Brostroem (2010)
Sabine Rohner (2008)
Benjamin Towbin (2006-2007)
Sabine Rohner (2006)

Visiting scientists

Azusa Uchimoto (2019)
Akito Funatsu (2019)
Haruka Yoshida (2019)
Ryoichi Inoue (2019)
Catia Attanasio (2016-2018)
Sukenao Koyabu (2018)
Saho Kitagawa (2017-2018)
Takumi Motokura (2017)
Io Yamamoto (2016)
Kiran Challa (2016)
Kei Kadoda (2015)
Miki Shinohara (2015)
Hisashi Kamido (2015)
Kyohei Kitamura (2015)
Mary Sopta (2014)
Kota Hashimoto (2014)
Kiwamu Doi (2014)
Sho Ishikawa (2014)
Masafumi Fukushima (2013)
Yo Murata (2013)
Jennifer Cobb (2013)
Shizuka Nohara (2013)
Kosuke Maeguchi (2012)
Mami Oi (2012)
Isabella Marcomini (2012)
Adriana Gonzalez (2011)
Mari Fujita (2011)
Yosef Gruenbaum (2010-2011)
Yuiko Hirata (2011)
Andrew Seeber (2011)
Raku Son (2010)
Munenori Kawai (2010)
Yuki Moriyama (2009)
Takaharu Sakuragi (2009)
Mohammad Sailani (2009)
Alix Christen (2009)
Anna Mattout (2008)
Yukako Oma (2007)
Eric Selker (2006-2007)
Jeanne Selker (2006-2007)
Takahito Yoshida (2005)


PhD (Biochemistry), University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
BA (Hons Biophysics), University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill., USA

Positions held

Director ISREC Foundation, Epalinges, Switzerland
Full Professor, Molecular Biology, University of Basel, Switzerland
Senior group leader, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland
Director, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland
Full Professor, Dept. of Molecular Biology, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Senior Group Leader, ISREC, Epalinges, Switzerland
Junior Group Leader, Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC), Epalinges, Switzerland
Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Molecular Biology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland


Member, Biozentrum Scientific Advisory Board, University of Basel
Member of the Executive Board of Accentus and Empiris Foundations, Zürich
Member of the Governing Board of the ETH Domain, Bern and Zürich
Member, Swiss Tropical & Public Health Institute, Scientific Advisory Board
Member, Univ. Tokyo Institute of Quant. Sciences, Scientific Advisory Board
Who's who in Switzerland, Who's who in Germany
Member, Crick Institute Scientific Advisory Board, London
Member, Swiss Science Council (SSC, advising Science Ministry)
Honorary Doctorate in Medicine, Charles University of Prague
Lee Hartwell Award, Genetics Society of America
Member, EMBL Scientific Advisory Council, Heidelberg
Member, Gairdner Prize Advisory committee, Toronto, Canada
Chair, Swiss National Science Foundation Gender Commission
Chair, Career Development Grant Review Committee HFSPO, Strasbourg
Member, Executive Board, Genomics Institute of the Novartis Res. Foundation
Scientific Review Board of Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, NL
Honorary Doctorate in Molecular biology, University of Lausanne
Member, Wissenschaftlicher Beirat of the Instituteof Advanced Study, Berlin
Member of the EC President's Science and Technology Advisory Council
Weizmann Institute, Women in Science Award
Advisory Board for Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen
EMBO/FEBS Women in Science Award
Prix International de l'INSERM, France
Election to American Association for the Advancement of Science
London Royal Society of Chemistry "Nucleic Acid" Award
Member of the Nestlé Nutrition Council, Nestlé SA8
Election to German Academy of Science, Leopoldina
Election to Academy of Medical Sciences, Switzerland
Gregor Mendel Medal, Czech Academy of Science
Otto Naegeli Prize for Biomedical Research, Switzerland
Board of Directors, Gebert Rüf Foundation, Basel
Foreign member, Académie des Sciences, Institut de France
Vice Chair and then Chair, EMBO Council, Heidelberg
Election to Academia Europaea
Friedrich Miescher Prize, Swiss Society for Biochemistry
Member, EMBO