Institute of Molecular Biology IMB

Mainz, Germany

Institute of Molecular Biology IMB

Mainz, Germany

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Cremer C.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB | Cremer C.,Kirchhoff Institute for Physics | Masters B.R.,Harvard University | Masters B.R.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology
European Physical Journal H | Year: 2013

We survey the history of resolution enhancement techniques in microscopy and their impact on current research in biomedicine. Often these techniques are labeled superresolution, or enhanced resolution microscopy, or light-optical nanoscopy. First, we introduce the development of diffraction theory in its relation to enhanced resolution; then we explore the foundations of resolution as expounded by the astronomers and the physicists and describe the conditions for which they apply. Then we elucidate Ernst Abbe's theory of optical formation in the microscope, and its experimental verification and dissemination to the world wide microscope communities. Second, we describe and compare the early techniques that can enhance the resolution of the microscope. Third, we present the historical development of various techniques that substantially enhance the optical resolution of the light microscope. These enhanced resolution techniques in their modern form constitute an active area of research with seminal applications in biology and medicine. Our historical survey of the field of resolution enhancement uncovers many examples of reinvention, rediscovery, and independent invention and development of similar proposals, concepts, techniques, and instruments. Attribution of credit is therefore confounded by the fact that for understandable reasons authors stress the achievements from their own research groups and sometimes obfuscate their contributions and the prior art of others. In some cases, attribution of credit is also made more complex by the fact that long term developments are difficult to allocate to a specific individual because of the many mutual connections often existing between sometimes fiercely competing, sometimes strongly collaborating groups. Since applications in biology and medicine have been a major driving force in the development of resolution enhancing approaches, we focus on the contribution of enhanced resolution to these fields. © 2013 The Author(s).

Busch A.,University of California at Irvine | Busch A.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB | Hertel K.J.,University of California at Irvine
RNA | Year: 2015

Alternative splicing is a key player in the creation of complex mammalian transcriptomes and its misregulation is associated with many human diseases. Multiple mRNA isoforms are generated from most human genes, a process mediated by the interplay of various RNA signature elements and trans-acting factors that guide spliceosomal assembly and intron removal. Here, we introduce a splicing predictor that evaluates hundreds of RNA features simultaneously to successfully differentiate between exons that are constitutively spliced, exons that undergo alternative 5′ or 3′ splice-site selection, and alternative cassette-type exons. Surprisingly, the splicing predictor did not feature strong discriminatory contributions from binding sites for known splicing regulators. Rather, the ability of an exon to be involved in one or multiple types of alternative splicing is dictated by its immediate sequence context, mainly driven by the identity of the exon's splice sites, the conservation around them, and its exon/intron architecture. Thus, the splicing behavior of human exons can be reliably predicted based on basic RNA sequence elements. © 2015 Busch and Hertel.

Jeschke M.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB | Baumgartner S.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB | Legewie S.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB
PLoS Computational Biology | Year: 2013

Cells reliably sense environmental changes despite internal and external fluctuations, but the mechanisms underlying robustness remain unclear. We analyzed how fluctuations in signaling protein concentrations give rise to cell-to-cell variability in protein kinase signaling using analytical theory and numerical simulations. We characterized the dose-response behavior of signaling cascades by calculating the stimulus level at which a pathway responds ('pathway sensitivity') and the maximal activation level upon strong stimulation. Minimal kinase cascades with gradual dose-response behavior show strong variability, because the pathway sensitivity and the maximal activation level cannot be simultaneously invariant. Negative feedback regulation resolves this trade-off and coordinately reduces fluctuations in the pathway sensitivity and maximal activation. Feedbacks acting at different levels in the cascade control different aspects of the dose-response curve, thereby synergistically reducing the variability. We also investigated more complex, ultrasensitive signaling cascades capable of switch-like decision making, and found that these can be inherently robust to protein concentration fluctuations. We describe how the cell-to-cell variability of ultrasensitive signaling systems can be actively regulated, e.g., by altering the expression of phosphatase(s) or by feedback/feedforward loops. Our calculations reveal that slow transcriptional negative feedback loops allow for variability suppression while maintaining switch-like decision making. Taken together, we describe design principles of signaling cascades that promote robustness. Our results may explain why certain signaling cascades like the yeast pheromone pathway show switch-like decision making with little cell-to-cell variability. © 2013 Jeschke et al.

Richly H.,University Pompeu Fabra | Richly H.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB | Aloia L.,University Pompeu Fabra | Di Croce L.,University Pompeu Fabra | Di Croce L.,Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies
Cell Death and Disease | Year: 2011

Polycomb group proteins have long been linked to the occurrence of different forms of cancer. Polycomb proteins form at least two distinct complexes, the Polycomb-repressive complexes 1 and 2 (PRC1 and PRC2). Some of the PRC complex subunits have been found to be overexpressed in a variety of different tumors. Epigenetic perturbations are likely to be the cause for transcriptional misregulation of tumor suppressor genes and of certain cell fates. It is especially critical for stem cells that their potential to self-renewal and to differentiate is tightly controlled and properly orchestrated. Misregulation of Polycomb protein levels often leads to either a block or unscheduled activation of developmental pathways, thereby enhancing the proliferation capability of a cell. The consequences of this misregulation have been linked to the establishment of cancer stem cells, which can produce tumors through a combination of increased self-renewal and the lack of complete cellular differentiation. Cancer stem cells are believed to persist within tumors and to elicit relapse and metastasis. In this review, we recapitulate the roles of Polycomb proteins in stem cell biology, and the impact their misregulation can have on cancer. © 2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.

Niehrs C.,German Cancer Research Center | Niehrs C.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB | Acebron S.P.,German Cancer Research Center
Cell | Year: 2010

Two key events in Wnt signal transduction, receptor endocytosis and inactivation of Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 (GSK3), remain incompletely understood. Taelman et al. (2010) discover that Wnt signaling inactivates GSK3 by sequestering the enzyme in multivesicular bodies, thus linking these two events and providing a new framework for understanding Wnt signaling. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.

Thakurela S.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB | Sahu S.K.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB | Garding A.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB | Tiwari V.K.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB
Genome Research | Year: 2015

Gene regulation in mammals involves a complex interplay between promoters and distal regulatory elements that function in concert to drive precise spatiotemporal gene expression programs. However, the dynamics of the distal gene regulatory landscape and its function in the transcriptional reprogramming that underlies neurogenesis and neuronal activity remain largely unknown. Here, we performed a combinatorial analysis of genome-wide data sets for chromatin accessibility (FAIREseq) and the enhancer mark H3K27ac, revealing the highly dynamic nature of distal gene regulation during neurogenesis, which gets progressively restricted to distinct genomic regions as neurons acquire a post-mitotic, terminally differentiated state. We further find that the distal accessible and active regions serve as target sites for distinct transcription factors that function in a stage-specific manner to contribute to the transcriptional program underlying neuronal commitment and maturation. Mature neurons respond to a sustained activity of NMDA receptors by epigenetic reprogramming at a large number of distal regulatory regions as well as dramatic reorganization of super-enhancers. Such massive remodeling of the distal regulatory landscape in turn results in a transcriptome that confers a transient loss of neuronal identity and gain of cellular plasticity. Furthermore, NMDA receptor activity also induces many novel prosurvival genes that function in neuroprotective pathways. Taken together, these findings reveal the dynamics of the distal regulatory landscape during neurogenesis and uncover novel regulatory elements that function in concert with epigenetic mechanisms and transcription factors to generate the transcriptome underlying neuronal development and activity. © 2015 Thakurela et al.

Ohkawara B.,German Cancer Research Center | Glinka A.,German Cancer Research Center | Niehrs C.,German Cancer Research Center | Niehrs C.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB
Developmental Cell | Year: 2011

The R-Spondin (Rspo) family of secreted Wnt modulators is involved in development and disease and holds therapeutic promise as stem cell growth factors. Despite growing biological importance, their mechanism of action is poorly understood. Here, we show that Rspo3 binds syndecan 4 (Sdc4) and that together they activate Wnt/PCP signaling. In Xenopus embryos, Sdc4 and Rspo3 are essential for two Wnt/PCP-driven processes-gastrulation movements and head cartilage morphogenesis. Rspo3/PCP signaling during gastrulation requires Wnt5a and is transduced via Fz7, Dvl, and JNK. Rspo3 functions by inducing Sdc4-dependent, clathrin-mediated endocytosis. We show that this internalization is essential for PCP signal transduction, suggesting that endocytosis of Wnt-receptor complexes is a key mechanism by which R-spondins promote Wnt signaling. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

de Albuquerque B.F.M.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB | de Albuquerque B.F.M.,University of Porto | Placentino M.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB | Ketting R.F.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB
Developmental Cell | Year: 2015

The Piwi-piRNA pathway represents a germline-specific transposon-defense system. C. elegans Piwi, prg-1, is a non-essential gene and triggers a secondary RNAi response that depends on mutator genes, endo-siRNAs (22G-RNAs), and the 22G-RNA-binding Argonaute protein HRDE-1. Interestingly, silencing of PRG-1 targets can become PRG-1 independent. This state, known as RNAe, is heritable and depends on mutator genes and HRDE-1. We studied how the transgenerational memory of RNAe and the piRNA pathway interact. We find that maternally provided PRG-1 is required for de novo establishment of 22G-RNA populations, especially those targeting transposons. Strikingly, attempts to re-establish 22G-RNAs in absence of both PRG-1 and RNAe memory result in severe germline proliferation defects. This is accompanied by a disturbed balance between gene-activating and -repressing 22G-RNA pathways. We propose a model in which CSR-1 prevents the loading of HRDE-1 and in which both PRG-1 and HRDE-1 help to keep mutator activity focused on the proper targets. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.

Rippe K.,German Cancer Research Center | Luke B.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB
Nature Structural and Molecular Biology | Year: 2015

Long noncoding telomeric repeat-containing RNA (TERRA) has been implicated in telomere maintenance in a telomerase-dependent and a telomerase-independent manner during replicative senescence and cancer. TERRA's proposed activities are diverse, thus making it difficult to pinpoint the critical roles that TERRA may have. We propose that TERRA orchestrates different activities at chromosome ends in a manner that depends on the state of the telomere. © 2015 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.

Cremer T.,LMU Biozentrum | Cremer C.,Institute of Molecular Biology IMB | Lichter P.,German Cancer Research Center
Human Genetics | Year: 2014

In line with the intentions of an issue celebrating the 50th anniversary of Human Genetics, we focus on a series of frequently cited studies published in this journal during the 1980s and 1990s. These studies have contributed to the rise of molecular cytogenetics. They yielded evidence that chromosomes occupy distinct territories in the mammalian cell nucleus, first obtained with laser-UV-microbeam experiments and thereafter with chromosome painting, and contributed to the development of interphase cytogenetics and comparative genome hybridization. We provide a personal account of experimental concepts, which were developed by us and others, and describe some of the unforeseeable turns and obstacles, which we had to overcome on the way towards an experimental realization. We conclude with a perspective on current developments and goals of molecular cytogenetics. © 2014 Springer-Verlag.

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