Fabian ErdelLaboratoire de biologie moléculaire eucaryote (LBME) - CNRS / Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse

Dissecting the mechanism underlying the formation and memory of chromatin patterns

Mes recherches

I combine single-molecule biophysics with live cell microscopy to study the dynamics of histone modifications, which are thought to play a role in encoding the identity of our cells. After having gathered experience with advanced live cell microscopy techniques during my PhD, I joined the lab of Eric Greene at Columbia University in New York as a postdoctoral fellow to investigate the interactions between proteins and DNA with so-called « DNA curtains ». I then moved on to lead a team at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, developing methods to control the behavior of cells using light. I was recruited as a CNRS researcher in 2018 and became an ATIP-Avenir laureate the same year. I afterwards started my group “Mechanisms of chromatin patterning” at the Center for Integrative Biology (CBI) in Toulouse, where I am currently based.

Mon projet ATIP-Avenir

Cellular identity is defined by patterns of DNA and histone modifications, which partition our chromosomes and determine how our cells interpret the genetic information. For cells to remember who they are, these modifications have to be tightly regulated over time and through cell division. Loss of cellular identity promotes different types of disease including neurological disorders and cancer.

Histone modifications can spread along chromatin and can be transmitted through cell division, giving rise to chromatin position effects and cellular memory. Although several models to explain these phenomena have been proposed, the underlying molecular mechanisms are not well understood. In particular, we do not know how the size and stability of modified domains is controlled, and we currently lack techniques to study these processes in real-time.

In my project, I will combine single-molecule biophysics with live cell microscopy to study how histone-modifying enzymes and structural proteins collaborate to establish and maintain domains of modified histones, and to understand how the behavior of these domains is linked to the biophysical properties of chromatin.

Fabian Erdel est également lauréat ERC Starting Grant 2018