Venue: Weston Park Lecture Theatre
Title: “The Function of DNA Modifications”
External seminar by: Professor Skirmantas Kriaucionis, University of Oxford
Biography Skirmantas Kriaucionis studied bacterial DNA methyltrasferases in Saulius Klimasauskas laboratory (Vilnius, Lithuania), where he was working to reveal the characteristics of enzyme-DNA interaction. He joined Adrian Bird’s laboratory (University of Edinburgh) for doctoral studies focusing on the function of methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2). Mutations in MECP2 gene cause Rett Syndrome, a severe neurological disorder. He discovered a new splice isoform of the MeCP2 gene and showed that the absence of the MeCP2 gene results abnormalities in mitochondrial function in a mouse model of Rett Syndrome. As a post-doctoral fellow in Nathaniel Heintz laboratory (Rockefeller University), he investigated DNA methylation in two neuronal cell types, where a distinct chromatin organization has been observed by electron microscopy. He developed methods to isolate neuronal sub-populations allowing to probe cell type-specific differences in chromatin organization. The findings revealed the presence of a novel DNA modification, 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), that is important in DNA demethylation and is enriched in neuronal cells.
In 2010 Skirmantas established group working on epigenetic mechanisms in Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University of Oxford. He identified unexpected pathway of how epigenetic nucleotides are metabolised, revealing novel therapeutic windows in pancreatic cancer.
Currently his group is continuing studies of the functions of DNA modifications in normal and in cancer cells
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