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Lars E.T. Jansen

Mechanisms of Chromatin Inheritance

Biography

Lars Jansen is a Dutch senior scientist at the Department of Biochemistry where he leads a team on understanding the function of chromatin during chromosome segregation, gene expression and epigenetic memory. He obtained his PhD in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leiden, the Netherlands in the field of DNA repair. In 2002, Lars trained as a postdoc with Don Cleveland at the Ludwig Institute in San Diego, California on the cell biology of the mammalian centromere. Before arriving to Oxford in 2018, he headed the Epigenetic Mechanisms research group for 10 years at Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC), in Portugal.

Research Goals

The genome is propagated through cell division by duplication of a full set of chromosomes followed by the faithful separation of each chromosome copy into two new daughter cells during mitosis. In addition to DNA sequences, specific chromosome structures that maintain functional chromosomes and that "memorize" the transcriptional state of a cell lineage is also maintained through mitotic and sometimes even meiotic divisions. The mechanisms of how such epigenetic states are maintained in time through subsequent cell division cycles is not understood. We are interested in resolving this.

We specifically aim to understand how chromatin, the nucleoprotein protein complex of DNA, RNA, histones and other proteins can carry "memory" of gene expression or chromatin structure. To do this, chromatin itself need to be stably inherited and copied in concert with cell division. We aim to understand all these aspects. Current research focusses on the mammalian centromere, a chromatin domain that has the ability to self-duplicate and be inherited in a strongly epigenetic manner. In addition, we aim to discover novel mechanisms underlying long term transcriptional memory in the context of inflammation.