The structure of chromatin is critical for many aspects of cellular physiology and is considered to be the primary medium to store epigenetic information. It is defined by the histone molecules that constitute the nucleosome, the positioning of the nucleosomes along the DNA and the non-histone proteins that associate with it. All these factors help to establish and maintain a largely DNA sequence independent but surprisingly stable structure. The Imhof group studies the proteomic composition of distinct chromatin domains, the mechanisms that operate to maintain the composition of histone modifications and the associated proteins at a given DNA locus. We are interested in the effect of the concentration of key metabolites on the activity of enzymes that establish a specific chromatin structure and investigate how the modification patterns of changes upon physiological challenges such as memory formation or ageing.
Our main model system is the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. It is also an excellent system to investigate the role of genomic conflict in the formation of species, which is mediated by incompatible chromatin and is another big interest of the lab.