Signal Transduction and Growth Control

Genetic network dynamics of early phase keratinocyte differentiation

Skin biology

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The skin is the largest organ of the human body. It ensures protection against external influences and water loss and plays an important role in thermoregulation and haptic perception. The skin is an excellent in vivo system to study molecular mechanisms how a given cell is able to execute tissue homeostasis and to adapt itself to environmental cues (e.g. wounding, chemical stress) on the level of gene expression. Altered gene expression in epidermal keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts rapidly and appropriately adjusts the balance of critical cellular programs, e.g. proliferation, migration and differentiation. However, aberrant control of this regulatory circuit will lead to diverse pathologies such as dermatitis, psoriasis and cancer.


One focus of our research is to understand principle mechanisms of gene expression control in keratinocytes and/or dermal fibroblasts and toanalyze the function of specific gene products in the process of wound healing (Schumacher et al JID 2014, 34(5):1332-41, Hildenbrand et al JID 2010, 130(7):1922-30) and cancer (Leibold et al JID 2013, 133(10):2400-6; Krenzer et al JID 2011, 131(11):2281-8; Riehl et al BMC Genomics 2010, 11:537). In addition, we aim to identify gene regulatory networks controlling the genetic programs that adjust the critical balance of keratinocyte proliferation and differentiation in physiology and pathology of the skin.


In addition to state-of-the-art molecular biology techniques a variety of project-specific approaches are used in the lab such as:

Isolation, in vitro cultivation of primary murine as well as human keratinocytes

genetic manipulation of cells via lentiviral transduction

co-cultivation of primary keratinocytes and genetically modified fibroblasts

in vivo skin cancer mouse models and wound studies on transgenic mice


Team members

Sebastian Baars                                             

Dr. Bettina Füssel                                          

Dr. Maria Llamazares-Prada

Sibylle Szabowski

Christine Bauer


Contact

Dr. Bettina Füssel (nee Hartenstein)
E-Mail: b.fuessel@dkfz.de
Tel.: +49-6221-42-4404 or -4405

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