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Lab Akhtar

The Akhtar lab is interested understanding how the two epigenetic mechanisms of histone acetylation and long non-coding RNA are able to finetune gene expression in order to achieve the appropriate levels for a given cell.

Double success

December 14, 2020

Asifa Akhtar and Volker Springel are honoured with the 2021 Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation more

Germany’s most prestigious research funding prize goes to Freiburg-based Max Planck researcher more

A gel for dosage compensation

November 18, 2020

The single X chromosome of male fruit flies can be just as active as the two X chromosomes of females thanks to two sticky molecules more

An interview with the new vice president of the Biology and Medicine Section more

Study shows how blood vessels sense the metabolic state of neuronal cells more

2021 Leibniz Prize to Asifa Akhtar

Video March 15, 2021
In 2021, the most important German research prize went to Max Planck Director Dr. Asifa Akhtar at at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg. She received the 2021 Leibniz Prize from the German Research Foundation (DFG) for her work on her cell biological work on the mechanisms of epigenetic gene regulation. In addition, watch here a recording of the virutal award ceremony on March 15, 2021. Read more about the award in our official press release: Asifa Akhtar receives 2021 Leibniz Prize more
All cells in our bodies contain the same genetic information. Yet, these cells make up very different parts of the body like liver, heart, and eyes. This is achieved by expressing certain genes and inactivating others. The protein MOF is known to play an important role in this process: DNA does not flow freely in the cell nucleus but is packaged by histone proteins. There, MOF facilitates reading the genetic information encoded in the DNA by modifying the histones. Asifa Akhtar describes in this video how the researchers were surprised to find that, in mammals, MOF is not only present in the nucleus but also in the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. To understand which role MOF plays in both locations, the team employed confocal microscopy, biochemistry and genetics to study the effect of removing the protein from the cell. Their findings indicate that MOF controls gene expression both in the nucleus and the mitochondria. This implicates a link between gene expression and metabolism control which might provide a new perspective on how changes in the environment that influence the metabolism can impinge on the expression of genes. For additional information (chapters, subtitles papers and a beyond science video section please use this link: latestthinking.org. more

The beauty of the X chromosome

Video August 20, 2014
The Department of Chromatin Regulation is headed by Asifa Akhtar. The major research goal of this department is to study the chromatin and epigenetic mechanisms underlying gene regulation using dosage compensation in Drosophila as a powerful model system to study chromatin regulation at individual gene level as well from a chromosomal perspective. The team is addressing how the dosage compensation complex, composed of RNA and proteins (the MSL complex) is specifically targeted to the X chromosome. Furthermore, they are investigating whether chromosome organization and nuclear architecture contribute to transcription activity and how this influences X chromosomal regulation. Ultimately, the department would like to understand the molecular mechanism by which dosage compensation modulates X chromosomal transcriptional output. Visit the department. more

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