Advancing Epigenetics Towards Systems Biology

Claus Azzalin

ETH Zürich, Institute of Biochemistry, Zürich, Switzerland

The telomeric epigenome

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Telomeres are nucleoprotein structures composed of protein, DNA and RNA molecules including 'telomeric repeat-containing RNA' (TERRA). Telomeres found a major cellular center of assembly of constitutive heterochromatin. We study TERRA biogenesis, regulation and functions. We have engineered human and yeast cells where transcription of specific telomeres can be experimentally induced to test whether telomere transcription modulates telomeric heterochromatin establishment and maintenance, as well as telomere length homeostasis. We have also isolated a number of S. pombe deletion mutants where TERRA levels are up-regulated as compared to wild type cells. We are also studying Cay1 that appears to be a novel factor stimulating telomeric heterochromatin establishment by targeting histone deacetylase activities to chromosome ends. Studying the telomeric epigenome will help unveiling how telomeres promote chromosome stability and will strongly expand our understanding of telomere-related biological processes such as cancer development and organismal ageing.

Lab members involved:

  • Rajika Arora, Post-Doc
  • Luca Lorenzi, PhD student
  • Martin Moravec, PhD student
  • Vadim Shchepachev, PhD student
  • Isabella Zanini, PhD student
  • Harry Wischnewski, lab manager


Latest publications

TERRA promotes telomerase-mediated telomere elongation in Schizosaccharomyces pombe.

27154402 - 2016-05-08
EMBO Rep 2016 May 6;

Moravec M, Wischnewski H, Bah A, Hu Y, Liu N, Lafranchi L, King MC, Azzalin CM

Telomere elongation chooses TERRA ALTernatives.

26158306 - 2015-07-15
RNA Biol 2015 Jul 9;:0

Arora R, Azzalin CM

Fission yeast Cactin restricts telomere transcription and elongation by controlling Rap1 levels.

25398909 - 2014-11-16
EMBO J 2014 Nov 14;

Lorenzi LE, Bah A, Wischnewski H, Shchepachev V, Soneson C, Santagostino M, Azzalin CM

View all their publications