Institute of Cell Biology Seminar Series


Seminars are held on Mondays at 12.00 noon or Wednesdays in May at 12.00 noon in Lecture Theatre 1, Daniel Rutherford Building

Everyone is welcome to attend.

Semester Two:  January - June 2018





8 Jan 2018

Susana Godinho

Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Margaret University London

Julie Welburn

15 Jan 2018

Yves Barral

Institute of Biochemistry, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Bill Earnshaw

22 Jan 2018

Carolyn Moores

Department of Biological Sciences, Birbeck, University of London

Ken Sawin

29 Jan 2018

Michael Blatt

Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology, University of Glasgow

Naomi Nakayama

5 Feb 2018

Jan Löwe

Structural Studies, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge

Meriem El Karoui

12 Feb 2018

Buzz Baum

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology, UCL

Julie Welburn

19 Feb 2018



26 Feb 2018

Etienne Bucher

Institut de Recherche en Horticulture et Semences, Centre Angers-Nantes/INRA-IRHS

Attila Molnar

5 March 2018

Alena Shkumatava

Genetics and Developmental Biology, Institut Curie

Atlanta Cook

12 March 2018

Steve Brusatte

School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh

Robin Allshire

19 March 2018

Bob Vander Meer

Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology, USDA

Janice Bramham

26 March 2018

Kim Hammond-Kosack

Molecular Plant Pathology, Biointeractions and Crop Protection, Rothamsted Research

Gary Loake

2 April 2018



9 April 2018



16 April 2018



23 April 2018

Alessia Buscaino

School of Biosciences, University of Kent

David Finnegan

30 April 2018



Wed 2 May 2018

Peter Askjaer

Centro Andaluz de Biología del Desarrollo, Seville, Spain

Charles Dixon

Eric Schirmer

Wed 9 May 2018

No seminar – ISAB meeting


Wed 16 May 2018

Seminar Cancelled


Wed 23 May 2018

Michiel Vermeulen

Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Elana Bryan

Philipp Voigt

11 June 2018

Laurent Blanchoin

Institute of Life Sciences Research and Technologies, CEA, Grenoble

Andrew Goryachev

18 June 2018

Mark Dodding

School of Biochemistry, University of Bristol

Tony Ly

25 June 2018

Matthias Heinemann

Molecular Systems Biology, University of Groningen

Meriem El Karoui

25 June 2018

Dominic van Essen

Institute for Research on Cancer and Aging, Nice

Patrick Heun (1pm)

Michael Swann Building S7.15


Seminar details (including ad hoc seminars)

Date Event
23rd May 2018
Daniel Rutherford Building
G.27, Lecture Theatre 1

Michiel Vermeulen - Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

WT PhD Programme Seminar - Deciphering (de)regulation of gene expression in health and disease using integrative omics approaches

The development of an adult human being from a single fertilized egg is accompanied by the generation of ~200 functionally distinct cell types. Each of these cell types expresses only a subset of the 20.000 genes that the human genome encodes for. Cell-type specific gene expression patterns thus ensure the generation of hundreds of phenotypes based on a single genotype. Transcription factors play an important role in driving cell-type specific gene expression, but so-called epigenetic modifications of DNA and core histones also regulate changes in gene expression and phenotype during development and during adult life. Our lab is using state-of-the-art quantitative mass-spectrometry based (interaction) proteomics and next generation DNA sequencing technology to decipher (epi)genetic regulation of gene expression in (differentiated) stem cells. In my lecture I will give an overview of current projects related to this topic.

Host: PhilippVoigt and Elana Bryan

2nd May 2018
Daniel Rutherford Building
G.27, Lecture Theatre 1

Peter Askjaer - Centro Andaluz de Biología del Desarrollo, Seville

WT PhD Programme Seminar - The function of nuclear pore proteins in nuclear assembly and chromatin organisation

Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) are fascinating molecular machines. They are essential regulators of nucleocytoplasmic transport, gene expression and genome stability and NPC components, the nucleoporins (NUPs), are involved in kinetochore assembly. The nucleoporin MEL-28/ELYS plays a critical role in NPC assembly through recruitment of the NUP107-160 subcomplex, and is required for correct meiotic and mitotic chromosomes segregation. However, MEL-28 is also expressed in post-mitotic cells, suggesting that it might have additional functions. In support of this, we have observed that inactivation of MEL-28 in post-mitotic cells causes a dramatic lifespan reduction.


We have mapped several functional domains in MEL-28, including a C-terminal DNA binding domain. Combined with the observation that a significant fraction of MEL-28 localises in the nucleoplasm, we speculate that MEL-28 might be directly involved in control of gene expression. To identify genes potentially regulated by MEL-28 we performed DamID experiments. This revealed that MEL-28’s binding profile is different from those of others nuclear envelope proteins (NPP-22/NDC1, LMN-1/lamin and EMR-1/emerin), associating more frequently with chromosome centres.

Interestingly, we found a positive correlation between MEL-28 peaks and active transcription markers, such as AMA-1/RNA pol II and methylated histone H3K4 and H3K36. In contrast, LMN-1/lamin and EMR-1/emerin are enriched outside MEL-28 associated domains (MADs). Moreover, expression levels of genes in MADs are higher than in MEL-28 gaps. MADs are enriched for genes involved in general cell biology processes but also larval development and locomotion.
To analyse the functional relevance of MEL-28’s association to chromatin, we are currently studying the effect of MEL-28 depletion on nuclear organization and gene expression. Finally, I will report behavioural data of mel-28 mutants, including developmental progression using a novel luciferase-based high-throughput method.

Host: Eric Schirmer and Charles Dixon

7th Sep 2017
Waddington Building

Noriko Saitoh, The Cancer Institute of JFCR, Tokyo

A cluster of nuclear long non-coding RNAs defines an active chromatin domain in recurrent breast cancer cells

In the nucleus, genomic DNA is intricately folded into several layers. It has become evident that nuclear long non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) are integrated in organization and function of chromatin and the nucleus.

Estrogen receptor alpha (ER)-positive breast cancer that undergoes endocrine therapy often acquires therapy-resistance, resulting in recurrence. To elucidate the underlying mechanism, we have performed transcriptome analyses using human ER-positive breast cancer cell line, MCF7 and its derivative LTED (long-term estrogen deprivation), which recapitulates the endocrine therapy-resistance. We found that ncRNAs, Eleanors (ESR1 locus enhancing and activating non-coding RNAs) were transcribed from a large chromatin region including the gene for ER (ESR1) and other co-regulated genes in LTED. This “Eleanor chromatin domain” coincided with topologically associating domain, and was transcriptionally active A-compartment in breast cancer. In the nucleus, Eleanors were associated with the ESR1 locus to activate it, and formed distinct RNA foci both in LTED cells and patient tissues. Inhibition of Eleanors resulted in repression of ESR1 mRNA and LTED cell proliferation.

I would like to discuss a novel type of ncRNA-mediated chromatin domain formation, which could be a good diagnostic and therapeutic target for recurrent breast cancer.

Host: Bill Earnshaw

22nd Aug 2017
Hudson Beare Building
Lecture Theatre 2

CANCELLED - Tom Misteli, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Deep Imaging of the Genome

The genome is one of the major physical entities in the eukaryotic cell and is spatially and temporally highly organized. High-throughput imaging approaches are emerging as powerful tools to elucidate the cell biological properties of genomes and to link genome architecture to function at a single-cell level. Deep Imaging methods are based on the development of high-capacity, high-precision automated microscopes which allow acquisition of large imaging datasets and the implementation of computational image analysis and data mining methods to quantitatively capture morphological phenotypes. Deep Imaging enables new experimental strategies for the study of the genome including visualization and analysis of rare events such as chromosome breaks and translocations, use of large-scale imaging-based screens to probe molecular mechanisms of genome organization and function in an unbiased fashion, and they allow mapping of the genome in 3D space. These approaches are powerful tools to probe the cell biology of genomes and provide novel insights into genome architecture and function.

Host: Eric Schirmer

22nd Aug 2017
Waddington Building

Noel Buckley, University of Oxford

Modelling neuronal development with stem cells: from single factors to systems

A major tenet of biology is that development is driven and regulated by networks of transcription factors. This is nowhere more true than during mammalian neurodevelopment where the neural stem cells of the neural plate must ultimately generate the myriad of cell types that constitute the adult nervous system. For several decades we have been driven by the hunt for singular master regulator genes or hubs that drive neurodevelopment and have paid scant attention to the networks in which the regulators operate. I will review both these approaches using our work on REST as an exemplar of a master transcription factor that regulates a myriad of biological processes and then introduce our recent attempts to develop dynamical networks using a state-space modelling approach incorporating time-delay to provide a systems perspective of neural induction.

Host: Adrian Bird

7th Aug 2017
Waddington Building

Song Tan, Pennsylvania State University

Structural studies of chromatin complexes

Song Tan is Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at Penn State University in the U.S..  He studied physics as an undergraduate at Cornell University (1985) before pursuing his PhD at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (1989).  He continued his training as postdoctoral fellow and project leader under Tim Richmond at the ETH-Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) where he determined crystal structures of transcription factor/DNA complexes.  Dr. Tan joined the Penn State Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1998.  Dr. Tan’s laboratory investigates how chromatin enzymes and factors interact with their nucleosome substrates through biochemical and structural approaches.  His laboratory determined the first chromatin factor-nucleosome crystal structure (RCC1-nucleosome) in 2010 and the first chromatin enzyme-nucleosome crystal structure (PRC1-nucleosome) in 2014.  He recently spent a year on sabbatical at the MRC LMB to learn cryoEM.

Host: Robin Allshire

24th May 2017
Daniel Rutherford
G.27, LT1

Vincent Gèli, CRCM, Marseilles, France

WT PhD Programme Seminar - The many faces of the Set1 complex

The family of histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) methylases is highly conserved from yeast to human. They share a canonical organization in which the catalytic subunit acts as a docking platform for multiple subunits that regulate the enzymatic activity. Set1 complex (Set1C or COMPASS) mediated H3K4 methylation is one of the most prominent histone modifications that mark active transcription. In budding yeast, Set1C and H3K4 methylation have not only been involved in transcription but in multiple processes such as chromosome segregation, DNA replication, and meiotic recombination. Recent reports led to the concept that Set1C subunits, in addition to regulating H3K4 methylation, may be directly involved in some of these biological functions by recruiting specific protein partners. However, the mechanisms by which the Set1C protein interaction network promotes these processes remain poorly understood. In this talk, we will discuss these many faces of the Set1 complex.

Host: Jean Beggs and Bella Maudlin

25th Jan 2017
Michael Swann Building

Michael Markie, Wellcome Open Research

Wellcome Open Research: a new publishing initiative from the Wellcome Trust

Wellcome Open Research is a new publishing platform that provides all Wellcome researchers with a place to rapidly publish any results they think are worth sharing.


Based on the F1000Research publishing model, Wellcome Open Research will make research outputs available faster and in ways that support reproducibility and transparency. It uses an open access model of immediate publication followed by transparent, invited peer review and inclusion of supporting data. It encourages the publication of all research outputs including data sets, negative results, protocols, case reports, incremental findings as well as more traditional narrative-based articles.


This 20 minute presentation by Michael Markie (Publisher, Wellcome Open Research) will discuss the aims and motivations for establishing this platform, how it works and the benefits it offers to researchers. The presentation will then be followed by the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the platform.

Host: Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology