DKFZ Junior Group Mechanisms of Leukemogenesis

PD Dr. Daniel Mertens

Inactivation of 13q14 in leukemic cells. Candidate genes in chromosomal band 13q14 are monoallelically expressed in non-malignant cells due to an epig

Cancer patients die from resistance to therapy and metastasis. These processes are based on genetic and epigenetic aberrations and require the support of the tumor microenvironment that supplies pro-survival and protective stimuli. Understanding the molecular mechanism of these processes will allow one to target aberrant (epi)genetic pathways, interrupt the support of the microenvironment and address resistance to therapy. The Cooperation Unit between the DKFZ and the University Hospital of Ulm is ideally suited to translate molecular findings on chronic leukemia towards clinical application with respect to prognostication and therapy.


i) The identified epigenetic signatures are developed by the research network “PRECiSe” (coordinated by Daniel Mertens and Karsten Rippe) to stratify leukemia patients into different treatment groups.

ii) The aberrant epigenetic landscape drives transcription, and we used transcriptomic screens to identify compounds that target the microenvironmental support. We show that these repurposed substances are active in a leukemia mouse model via disruption of hypoxia-inducible pathways that are the most important support in the leukemic niche.


PD Dr. Daniel Mertens
Mechanisms of Leukemogenesis (B061)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 731 500 45870

Selected Publications

  • Oakes C.C. et al. (2015). DNA methylation dynamics during B cell maturation underlie a continuum of disease phenotypes in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Nat Genet, 48(3), 53-64.
  • D.A. Landau et al. (2015). Somatic mutations driving chronic lymphocytic leukemia and their evolution in disease progression and relapse. Nature, 526(7574), 525-30.
  • 2016-08-25 12:52:44
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