Christof Niehrs

Head of division "Molecular Embryology" at the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) and founding director Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), Mainz.

DNA methylation is a common epigenetic mark and it has become clear that DNA methylation is reversible by enzymatic active DNA demethylation, with examples in plants, animal development, cancer and immune cells.

Yet, the molecular mechanisms underlying active demethylation are only beginning to be understood. We study the mechanisms of active DNA demethylation as well as its biological significance. Our goal is to unravel this epigenetic process by analyzing its molecular regulators.

We have focused in particular on Growth arrest and DNA damage protein 45a (Gadd45a), a multifunctional protein which mediates active DNA demethylation.

Specific research interests are the biological role of Gadd45 in demethylation, its interaction with the DNA repair machinery as well as with chromatin and non-coding RNAs. 

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