Development and maintenance of multi-cellular organisms requires a coordinate communication between cells. This communication secures that cells behave appropriately according to their position in the body and maintain proper homeostasis. Disturbance of this communication may result in aberrant differentiation, malformation, tumor development, or cellular degeneration.
The research in the section focuses on cell proliferation, cell differentiation, cell polarization, cell death, and the development of multi-cellular organisms. Molecular mechanisms are investigated from the gene level to their cellular function using primary cells (e.g. human and mouse stem cells), cell lines, and mouse models. Transgene and knock down/out approaches, biochemical studies, and microscopic analyses are central for assessing the role of genes and the processes determining cell fate, cell growth and proliferation, cell specification, cell to cell interactions, cell to extracellular matrix interactions, the influence of nutritional and environmental factors, and the interaction with microbes.
Food items contain numerous bioactive components or their precursors, including the sources of energy and the building block of life, such as amino acids. These bioactive components deliver crucial signals and have important functions in the growth, development, health and longevity of the consumer. In the section for Molecular Nutrition the research is focused on the identification, isolation and characterization of such bioactive food components in physiological systems.
The section consists of five research groups located in two different laboratory environments: Protein Chemistry Laboratory and Laboratory of Cellular Ageing.
Protein Chemistry Laboratory houses the research groups led by Jan Trige Rasmussen, Christian Würtz Heegaard, Torben Ellebæk Petersen and Esben Skipper Sørensen. These groups work on the structural and functional characterization and exploitation of milk components and their effects on various physiological conditions such as effects on the immune system, cholesterol metabolism, cancer, diabetes and other lifestyle diseases.
Laboratory of Cellular Ageing houses the research group led by Suresh Rattan. The group works on elucidating human cellular ageing processes and on testing ageing-interventional factors, including bioactive nutritional components.
For more detailed description of the research groups and projects please see the web pages for the individual group leaders (please see below).
The regulation of genome function is essential for all aspects of life, including reproduction, survival and evolution. Research carried out in the ‘Section for Genome Expression, Stability and Technology’ focuses on the biological aspects of DNA topology, replication and repair, transcription, RNA processing and turnover, functions of non-coding RNAs, translation regulation in response to stress and post translational regulation mechanisms. These topics all constitute life-essential functions of eukaryotic genomes and transcriptomes.
Besides standard genetics and molecular biology methodologies, the section employs high-throughput RNAi screening, deep sequencing, high-throughput proteomics, high-resolution microscopy, purification and functional characterization of mitochondria, biochemical characterization of proteins, microfluidic systems, single molecule visualization, single-cell analyses techniques, and various DNA replication assays, including two dimensional- and pulsed field-gel electrophoresis.
The section mainly conducts basic research with an organismal interest ranging from yeast to man to understand mechanisms behind genome maintenance and regulation. Moreover, stem cells and cancer development models are employed. Efforts are also taken to develop technologies applicable for biomedical research with focus on cancer, aging-related diseases and human pathogens.
The Section for Genome Expression, Stability and Technology consists of 60 employees and students, including technicians and bachelor-, exchange-, and masters-students, PhD students, post docs, and other permanent staff.
Domestic animals provide an valuable resource for studying the of genetic and phenotypic variation that can be exploited to detect genes of importance to metabolism, growth, stress, the immune system, host-pathogen interaction, behavior, health, and hereditary diseases.
In recent years, genetic research has greatly improved our knowledge of livestock genomes, making it possible to explore the molecular genetic basis for phenotypic variation in livestock. The research creates information that can be used in the breeding work, and provides new basic insight into the function of the genes and thereby increased understanding of phenotypes.