* joint first author # joint corresponding author

Most Recent Publications
Suhrid Ghosh✳︎, Anna Körte✳︎, Giulia Serafini✳︎, Vinca Yadav✳︎, Jonathan Rodenfels
Developmental energetics: Energy expenditure, budgets and metabolism during animal embryogenesis.
Semin Cell Dev Biol, 138 83-93 (2023)
Open Access DOI
Developing embryos are metabolically active, open systems that constantly exchange matter and energy with their environment. They function out of thermodynamic equilibrium and continuously use metabolic pathways to obtain energy from maternal nutrients, in order to fulfill the energetic requirements of growth and development. While an increasing number of studies highlight the role of metabolism in different developmental contexts, the physicochemical basis of embryogenesis, or how cellular processes use energy and matter to act together and transform a zygote into an adult organism, remains unknown. As we obtain a better understanding of metabolism, and benefit from current technology development, it is a promising time to revisit the energetic cost of development and how energetic principles may govern embryogenesis. Here, we review recent advances in methodology to measure and infer energetic parameters in developing embryos. We highlight a potential common pattern in embryonic energy expenditure and metabolic strategy across animal embryogenesis, and discuss challenges and open questions in developmental energetics.

Belin Selcen Beydag-Tasöz, Siham Yennek, Anne Grapin-Botton
Towards a better understanding of diabetes mellitus using organoid models.
Nat Rev Endocrinol, Art. No. doi: 10.1038/s41574-022-00797-x (2023)
Our understanding of diabetes mellitus has benefited from a combination of clinical investigations and work in model organisms and cell lines. Organoid models for a wide range of tissues are emerging as an additional tool enabling the study of diabetes mellitus. The applications for organoid models include studying human pancreatic cell development, pancreatic physiology, the response of target organs to pancreatic hormones and how glucose toxicity can affect tissues such as the blood vessels, retina, kidney and nerves. Organoids can be derived from human tissue cells or pluripotent stem cells and enable the production of human cell assemblies mimicking human organs. Many organ mimics relevant to diabetes mellitus are already available, but only a few relevant studies have been performed. We discuss the models that have been developed for the pancreas, liver, kidney, nerves and vasculature, how they complement other models, and their limitations. In addition, as diabetes mellitus is a multi-organ disease, we highlight how a merger between the organoid and bioengineering fields will provide integrative models.

Ekaterina Osipova, Rico Barsacchi, Tom Brown, Keren Sadanandan, Andrea H Gaede, Amanda Monte, Julia Jarrells, Claudia Moebius, Martin Pippel, Douglas L Altshuler, Sylke Winkler, Marc Bickle, Maude W Baldwin, Michael Hiller
Loss of a gluconeogenic muscle enzyme contributed to adaptive metabolic traits in hummingbirds.
Science, 379(6628) 185-190 (2023)
Hummingbirds possess distinct metabolic adaptations to fuel their energy-demanding hovering flight, but the underlying genomic changes are largely unknown. Here, we generated a chromosome-level genome assembly of the long-tailed hermit and screened for genes that have been specifically inactivated in the ancestral hummingbird lineage. We discovered that FBP2 (fructose-bisphosphatase 2), which encodes a gluconeogenic muscle enzyme, was lost during a time period when hovering flight evolved. We show that FBP2 knockdown in an avian muscle cell line up-regulates glycolysis and enhances mitochondrial respiration, coincident with an increased mitochondria number. Furthermore, genes involved in mitochondrial respiration and organization have up-regulated expression in hummingbird flight muscle. Together, these results suggest that FBP2 loss was likely a key step in the evolution of metabolic muscle adaptations required for true hovering flight.

Patrick Cahan#, Barbara Treutlein#
A conversation with ChatGPT on the role of computational systems biology in stem cell research.
Stem Cell Rep, 18(1) 1-2 (2023)
Open Access DOI

Qinghao Yu✳︎, Hannah E Walters✳︎, Maximina H Yun
Induction and Characterization of Cellular Senescence in Salamanders.
Methods Mol Biol, 2562 135-154 (2023)
Cellular senescence is a permanent proliferation arrest mechanism induced following the detection of genotoxic stress. Mounting evidence has causally linked the accumulation of senescent cells to a growing number of age-related pathologies in mammals. However, recent data have also highlighted senescent cells as important mediators of tissue remodeling during organismal development, tissue repair, and regeneration. As powerful model organisms for studying such processes, salamanders constitute a system in which to probe the characteristics, physiological functions, and evolutionary facets of cellular senescence. In this chapter, we outline methods for the generation, identification, and characterization of salamander senescent cells in vitro and in vivo.

Mateusz Susik, Ivo F. Sbalzarini
Analysis of the Hamiltonian Monte Carlo genotyping algorithm on PROVEDIt mixtures including a novel precision benchmark
FSI Genetics, 64 Art. No. 102840 (2023)
Open Access PDF DOI
We provide an internal validation study of a recently published precise DNA mixture algorithm based on Hamiltonian Monte Carlo sampling (Susik et al., 2022). We provide results for all 428 mixtures analysed by Riman et al. (2021) and compare the results with two state-of-the-art software products: STRmix™ v2.6 and Euroformix v3.4.0. The comparison shows that the Hamiltonian Monte Carlo method provides reliable values of likelihood ratios (LRs) close to the other methods. We further propose a novel large-scale precision benchmark and quantify the precision of the Hamiltonian Monte Carlo method, indicating its improvements over existing solutions. Finally, we analyse the influence of the factors discussed by Buckleton et al. (2022).
Most Recent Publications
Angela L Caipa Garcia, Jill E Kucab, Halh Al-Serori, Rebekah S S Beck, Franziska Fischer, Matthias Hufnagel, Andrea Hartwig, Andrew Floeder, Silvia Balbo, Hayley E Francies, Mathew J Garnett, Meritxell Huch, Jarno Drost, Matthias Zilbauer, Volker M Arlt, David H Phillips
Metabolic Activation of Benzo[a]pyrene by Human Tissue Organoid Cultures.
Int J Mol Sci, 24(1) Art. No. 606 (2022)
Open Access DOI
Organoids are 3D cultures that to some extent reproduce the structure, composition and function of the mammalian tissues from which they derive, thereby creating in vitro systems with more in vivo-like characteristics than 2D monocultures. Here, the ability of human organoids derived from normal gastric, pancreas, liver, colon and kidney tissues to metabolise the environmental carcinogen benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) was investigated. While organoids from the different tissues showed varied cytotoxic responses to BaP, with gastric and colon organoids being the most susceptible, the xenobiotic-metabolising enzyme (XME) genes, CYP1A1 and NQO1, were highly upregulated in all organoid types, with kidney organoids having the highest levels. Furthermore, the presence of two key metabolites, BaP-t-7,8-dihydrodiol and BaP-tetrol-l-1, was detected in all organoid types, confirming their ability to metabolise BaP. BaP bioactivation was confirmed both by the activation of the DNA damage response pathway (induction of p-p53, pCHK2, p21 and γ-H2AX) and by DNA adduct formation. Overall, pancreatic and undifferentiated liver organoids formed the highest levels of DNA adducts. Colon organoids had the lowest responses in DNA adduct and metabolite formation, as well as XME expression. Additionally, high-throughput RT-qPCR explored differences in gene expression between organoid types after BaP treatment. The results demonstrate the potential usefulness of organoids for studying environmental carcinogenesis and genetic toxicology.

Lukas Theo Schmitt, Maciej Paszkowski-Rogacz, Florian Jug, Frank Buchholz
Prediction of designer-recombinases for DNA editing with generative deep learning.
Nat Commun, 13(1) Art. No. 7966 (2022)
Open Access DOI
Site-specific tyrosine-type recombinases are effective tools for genome engineering, with the first engineered variants having demonstrated therapeutic potential. So far, adaptation to new DNA target site selectivity of designer-recombinases has been achieved mostly through iterative cycles of directed molecular evolution. While effective, directed molecular evolution methods are laborious and time consuming. Here we present RecGen (Recombinase Generator), an algorithm for the intelligent generation of designer-recombinases. We gather the sequence information of over one million Cre-like recombinase sequences evolved for 89 different target sites with which we train Conditional Variational Autoencoders for recombinase generation. Experimental validation demonstrates that the algorithm can predict recombinase sequences with activity on novel target-sites, indicating that RecGen is useful to accelerate the development of future designer-recombinases.

Shanshan Xu, Maria E Gierisch, Anna Katharina Schellhaus, Ina Poser, Simon Alberti, Florian A Salomons, Nico P Dantuma
Cytosolic stress granules relieve the ubiquitin-proteasome system in the nuclear compartment.
EMBO J, Art. No. doi: 10.15252/embj.2022111802 (2022)
Open Access DOI
The role of cytosolic stress granules in the integrated stress response has remained largely enigmatic. Here, we studied the functionality of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) in cells that were unable to form stress granules. Surprisingly, the inability of cells to form cytosolic stress granules had primarily a negative impact on the functionality of the nuclear UPS. While defective ribosome products (DRiPs) accumulated at stress granules in thermally stressed control cells, they localized to nucleoli in stress granule-deficient cells. The nuclear localization of DRiPs was accompanied by redistribution and enhanced degradation of SUMOylated proteins. Depletion of the SUMO-targeted ubiquitin ligase RNF4, which targets SUMOylated misfolded proteins for proteasomal degradation, largely restored the functionality of the UPS in the nuclear compartment in stress granule-deficient cells. Stress granule-deficient cells showed an increase in the formation of mutant ataxin-1 nuclear inclusions when exposed to thermal stress. Our data reveal that stress granules play an important role in the sequestration of cytosolic misfolded proteins, thereby preventing these proteins from accumulating in the nucleus, where they would otherwise infringe nuclear proteostasis.

Silke Thüm

Head Librarian

Silke Thüm

Head Librarian
+49 351 210-2625