Division of Epigenetics
Epigenetic mechanisms regulate the interpretation of genetic information and adapt gene expression patterns to changing developmental or environmental contexts. Several epigenetic mechanisms have been identified so far, with DNA cytosine methylation representing the best-studied and possibly most relevant epigenetic mark. Our research focuses on understanding the biological function of cytosine methylation as a versatile epigenetic mark. Importantly, altered DNA methylation patterns represent one of the earliest and most consistent hallmarks of human cancers. We are using molecular approaches in combination with genome-wide epigenetic profiling technologies to analyze epigenetic alterations in premalignant lesions and during tumor formation. In this context, we are using single-cell approaches to identify the tumor cells-of-origin, with a particular focus on non-melanoma skin cancer and colon cancer.