Berlin meets London – Bridging sciences on a cruise
Early in October, LMS scientists from our three sections Epigenetics, Gene & Metabolism and Integrative Biology welcomed their colleagues from the MDC Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (MDC-BIMSB) for two days of discussions in beautiful Gresham College in Central London. This joined retreat takes place every two years and aims at reinforcing the bonds between our two institutions by fostering new collaborations and knowledge exchange.
The retreat started with a half-day mainly focused on Epigenetics and Chromatin biology with a presentation on the role of methylated DNA in evolutionary separated nematodes from Dr. Peter Sarkies (LMS) who demonstrated coevolution of DNA methylation with DNA repair mechanisms due to DNA damage induction by DNA methyltransferases. Importantly, he showed the conservation of these mechanisms in humans, which his group investigates in stem cells. New developments in state-of-the-art technologies of proteome analysis and genome architecture were presented by Dr. Matthias Selbach and Dr. Ana Pombo (MDC-BIMSB). Ana discussed a new technique developed in her team called Genome Architecture Mapping (GAM), which allows studying the relationship between gene regulation and genome organisation at significantly greater resolution than the conventional high-throughput of chromosome conformation capture approach (Hi-C) . The first day ended with a dinner cruise on the Thames river. We all enjoyed the amazing views of London by night, with all famous city landmarks illuminated on this cloudless night, including Parliament, the London Eye, London Bridge and Tower Bridge.
The second day of the retreat saw Dr. Jana Wolf (MDC-BIMSB) discuss her work on MYC-dependent gene regulation at promoters. MYC proto-oncogene is a transcription factor that plays a major role in the regulation of cell proliferation and is often found deregulated in cancer. Combining mathematical modelling and experimental data, her team identified differences in promoter-binding affinity of the MYC protein, and showed how these depend on MYC concentration to modulate essential biological processes . After further captivating presentations, the day ended with a good-bye address from Prof. Dame Amanda Fisher, director of MRC-LMS. Amanda encouraged all of us to keep the unique relationship of our two institutes active by establishing new collaborations. Together, with Prof. Nikolaus Rajewsky, director of the MDC- BIMSB, she pledged to support such initiatives and that funding was available for students and Post-Docs to travel between institutes to learn new techniques for instance. This is fantastic news and we are very much looking forward to hearing about the exciting new discoveries this will have made possible when we come together again in two years in Berlin.
 Complex multi-enhancer contacts captured by genome architecture mapping.
Beagrie R.A., Scialdone A., Schueler M., Kraemer D.C., Chotalia M., Xie S.Q., Barbieri M., de Santiago I., Lavitas L.M., Branco M.R., Fraser J., Dostie J., Game L., Dillon N., Edwards P.A., Nicodemi M., Pombo A.
Nature. 23;543(7646):519-524. (2017)
 Mathematical modelling of promoter occupancies in MYC-dependent gene regulation.
Benary U., Wolf E., Wolf J.
Genomics and Computational Biology. 3 (2): e54. (2017)