Group leader


Dr. Asifa Akhtar

Senior Group Leader and Managing Director
Phone:+49 761 5108 565

Lab Asifa Akhtar

Assistant: Linda Schmidl phone: +49 761 5108 564 Email:

Selected Publications

Chelmicki T, Dündar F, Turley MJ, Khanam T, Aktas T, Ramírez F, Gendrel AV, Wright PR, Videm P, Backofen R, Heard E, Manke T, Akhtar A. (2014)
MOF-associated complexes ensure stem cell identity and Xist repression.
Ilik, I.A., Quinn, J.J., Georgiev, P., Tavares-Cadete, F., Maticzka, D., Toscano, S., Wan, Y., Spitale, R.C., Luscombe, N., Backofen, R., Chang, H.Y., Akhtar, A. (2013)
Tandem Stem-Loops in roX RNAs Act Together to Mediate X Chromosome Dosage Compensation in Drosophila.
Hallacli, E., Lipp, M., Georgiev, P., Spielman, C., Cusack, S. Akhtar, A.*, and Kadlec, J.* (2012), *co-corresp. authors
Msl1-Mediated Dimerization of the Dosage Compensation Complex Is Essential for Male X-Chromosome Regulation in Drosophila.
Conrad T., Cavalli F.M., Vaquerizas, J.M., Luscombe*, N.M., Akhtar, A.* (2012), co-corresp. authors
Drosophila Dosage Compensation Involves Enhanced Pol II Recruitment to Male X-Linked Promoters
Kind J, Vaquerizas J, Gebhardt P, Gentzel M, Luscombe NM, Bertone P, Akhtar A. (2008)
Genomewide analysis revealed MOF as key regulator of gene dosage compensation and gene expression in Drosophila

Laboratory Asifa Akhtar

Laboratory Asifa Akhtar

DNA tightly packed together with histones into nucleosomes is not easily accessible to the enzymes that use it as a template for transcription or replication. Consequently, remodelling of chromatin structure may play an essential role in the regulation of gene expression. Structural changes in chromatin may also form the basis for dosage compensation mechanisms that have evolved to equalise levels of X-linked gene products between males and females. In humans, one of the two X chromosomes in females is randomly inactivated by condensation of the chromosome into a Barr body, a process known as X-inactivation. In contrast, in Drosophila this is achieved by a two fold hyper-transcription of the genes on the male X chromosome. Genetic studies have identified a number of factors that are important for dosage compensation in Drosophila, including five proteins [MSL1, MSL2, MSL3, MLE, MOF] and two non-coding RNAs [roX1 and roX2]. The hyperactive X is also specifically hyper-acetylated at histone H4, acetylation which is achieved by the MOF histone acetyl transferase.

The MSL complex in <em>Drosophila</em>, consisting of 2 non-coding RNAs and 5 proteins, is a key factor in male dosage compensation. Zoom Image
The MSL complex in Drosophila, consisting of 2 non-coding RNAs and 5 proteins, is a key factor in male dosage compensation. [less]

Our major goal is to study the epigenetic mechanisms underlying X-chromosome specific gene regulation using Drosophila dosage compensation as a model system. More specifically, we are interested in addressing how the dosage compensation complex, composed of RNA and proteins [the MSL complex], gets targeted to the X chromosome. In addition, we are studying the mechanism by which the MSL complex modulates X chromosomal transcriptional output.

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