Division of Biophysics of Macromolecules
Prof. Dr. Jörg Langowski
Gene activity is not determined by the DNA sequence alone, but also by its three-dimensional organization in the cell: DNA and chromatin global structure play a crucial role in the regulation of many important biological processes, such as cell differentiation or cancerogenesis.
The main goal of our work is to study the three-dimensional structure and dynamics of the genome in normal and tumor cells and to describe it by quantitative models. This will help us understand the connection between genome structure and normal or pathological states of the cell. To this aim, we study long-range interactions in DNA when genes are regulated by transcription factors, the structure of nucleosomes and chromatin fiber, and the organization of chromosome territories. The experiments are supplemented by advanced computer simulation techniques that describe the organization of DNA and chromatin in the cell as a flexible polymer.
Biophysical methods in our research program include in particular single-molecule techniques (fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, single pair FRET, scanning force microscopy), but also dynamic light scattering, neutron scattering, analytical ultracentrifugation, absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy, and stopped flow kinetics. We also develop and provide biophysical techniques for the characterization of other systems of biological macromolecules, especially in protein-protein and protein-DNA interaction and intermediate filament proteins.
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