NOV 09, 2017 2:00 AM PST

Mammalian DNA methylation landscapes and human cancers

  • Director, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics
      Alexander Meissner studied Medical Biotechnology at the Technical University Berlin before starting his PhD studies with Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute/MIT in 2002. He completed his PhD in 2006 and spent the next year and a half working with Rudolf Jaenisch and Eric Lander before starting his own lab as an assistant professor in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University and as an associate member of the Broad Institute in 2008. He was promoted to associate professor in 2012 and full professor with tenure in 2015. In 2016 he has been appointed as Director and Head of the Department of Genome regulation at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in secondary employment and changed it to his principal employment in 2017.


    Concerted efforts over past decades have established a thorough understanding of the canonical somatic DNA methylation landscape as well as its systematic misregulation across many cancers. However, the underlying mechanisms that may direct this genome-scale transformation remains elusive, with no clear model for its acquisition or understanding of its potential developmental utility. I will first summarize work from the past decade that provided key insights into our general understanding of DNA methylation and then discuss recent data that provide evidence for a developmental origin of the shared, erratic cancer methylome.

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