Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Genome Stability and Technology

Description of research

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.

Description of research

Research project: DNA repair and aging

The main focus of our research group is to obtain better insight into the relation between genomic instability, DNA repair mechanisms and the aging process in mammals. We are particularly interested in understanding the role of mitochondria and the maintenance of the mitochondrial genome in the aging process.

Our cells are constantly exposed to exogenous and endogenous DNA damaging agents. Exogenous sources of DNA damage include e.g. ultraviolet irradiation from the sun and chemicals in the environment. Endogenous sources include e.g. reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are mainly produced as part of the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation process. If not properly removed, DNA damage can be devastating to normal cell physiology, leading to mutagenesis and/or cell death. A number of mechanisms have evolved to cope with endogenous or exogenous stress to prevent chromosomal instability and maintain cellular homeostasis. Thus, DNA repair is a very important mechanism for maintenance of genomic integrity. Some DNA lesions may escape the repair mechanisms, and therefore DNA damage and mutations of different types accumulate with age. The accumulation of DNA damage is thought to play a critical role in the aging process, but many open questions remain to be answered regarding how these intricate mechanisms work and influence our health.


In our research projects we are using various aging model systems such as cell lines established from patients suffering from premature aging syndromes and genetically modified mice of various ages. Using state of the art technologies we study the molecular biology and metabolism of mitochondria in human and mouse tissues and cell lines, and we perform biochemical analysis of proteins that are believed to be involved in genome maintenance. Our research group also investigates potential correlations between DNA repair capacities in lymphocytes isolated from blood samples of young and old individuals and physiological measures of healthy aging.

Section coordinator