Susan M. Gasser

Genome organization during differentiation and stress

The Gasser laboratory studies how organization of proteins and DNA in the cell nucleus impinges on mechanisms of repair and replication fork stability, and on epigenetic inheritance of cell fate decisions. By combining high throughput cellular and molecular approaches, we are able to address questions of chromatin folding in living organisms. In respect to stem cell determination and epigenetic inheritance, the nematode C. elegans provides an opportunity to study the effects of 3D chromatin organization on the developmental program of a multicellular organism. We have examined how the environment can alter that program, through epigenetic marks, and we have asked if these changes are 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 and the more stable "condensates" of heterochromatin generate patterns of chromatin organization in the nucleus. We are identifying factors that drive the spatial separation of large chromatin domains.
2. Chromatin dynamics in repair: Chromatin organization can both protect from DNA damage and facilitate repair, both in C. elegans and in budding yeast. Within this topic we focus on dynamic changes to chromatin and chromatin compaction.
3. Stress-induced epigenetic function: We are examining whether there a "memory" function mediated by histone post-translational modification that controls stress response and organismal survival throughout a lifespan. Our studies have both a direct and indirect impact on understanding and treating medical conditions.

Additional information
FMI report pages for Susan M. Gasser

Susan M. Gasser
Gabi Gruber
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