Susan M. Gasser

Group News

Oct 1, 2019
Interview Susan Gasser
May 22, 2019
A role for gene activators in 3D nuclear organization
Apr 24, 2019
Am Schalter der Gene
Mar 8, 2019
Frauen in der Wissenschaft – Stellungnahme von Susan Gasser
Feb 26, 2019
Oncogenic risk arising from the loss of repeat silencing
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Susan M. Gasser

Genome organization during differentiation and stress

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.

Susan M. Gasser

This is a list of selected publications from this group. For a full list of publications, please visit our Publications page and search by group name.

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

Full list of publications
» Search with Medline


Group leader

PhD students

Postdoctoral fellows

Technical/Research associates



PhD students

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

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

Monika Tsai (2004-2017)
Monique Thomas-Seldran (2004-2005)
Thierry Laroche (2004)


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

Full Professor, Molecular Biology, University of Basel, Switzerland
Director, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland
Senior group leader, 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 Governing Board of the ETH Domain, Bern and Zürich
Member of the Executive Board of Accentus and Empiris Foundations, Zürich
Member, Univ. Tokyo Institute of Quant. Sciences, Scientific Advisory Board
Member, Swiss Tropical & Public Health Institute, 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)
Lee Hartwell Award, Genetics Society of America
Honorary Doctorate in Medicine, Charles University of Prague
Member, Gairdner Prize Advisory committee, Toronto, Canada
Member, EMBL Scientific Advisory Council, Heidelberg
Chair, Swiss National Science Foundation Gender Commission
Member, Executive Board, Genomics Institute of the Novartis Res. Foundation
Chair, Career Development Grant Review Committee HFSPO, Strasbourg
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
London Royal Society of Chemistry "Nucleic Acid" Award
Election to American Association for the Advancement of Science
Member of the Nestlé Nutrition Council, Nestlé SA8
Election to German Academy of Science, Leopoldina
Gregor Mendel Medal, Czech Academy of Science
Otto Naegeli Prize for Biomedical Research, Switzerland
Election to Academy of Medical Sciences, 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