Transcriptional memory. Cells exposed to interferon gamma (IFNγ) express specific genes. When the stimulus reoccurs, after many days, some genes show higher expression levels.
The European Commission announced the results of the competition for individual grants in the Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) in the Horizon 2020 program. One of the winners is dr Wojciech Siwek, who will implement the IMMUNE-GENEMEMO project at the University of Gdańsk. Granted funding for the project is EUR 252078,72. The project is carried out in cooperation with Harvard University.
IMMUNE-GENEMEMO combines gene expression analysis and selection strategies with immunological expertise. It will advance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying maintenance of gene expression states and contribute to the development of new immune therapies and vaccines.
- Maintenance of gene expression states is fundamental for development and health of organisms. Transcriptional memory is a phenomenon during which cells induced with a particular cue show increased rates of gene expression after restimulation at a later time. Interferon gamma (IFNγ) induction is a model to study this process. While IFNγ activates multiple gene targets, after removal of the signal a small subset is maintained in a poised state that allows for rapid reactivation at a later stage – explains dr Wojciech Siwek.
IMMUNE-GENEMEMO aims to uncover novel mechanisms by which cells can store and copy information. It will gain insight into those processes by employing a CRISPR-Cas9, genome wide mutagenesis and selection strategy to identify novel transcriptional memory maintenance factors. Secondly the project targets to establish the function of the identified components in the biology of specific immune cells.
- The implementation of Dr Wojciech Siwek's IMMUNE-GENEMEMO project at the International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science, University of Gdańsk will be of mutual benefit - for the career development of the MSCA Fellowship winner and for the collaboration with the scientific staff in our Centre and to establish new collaborations at the immune-cancer interface at the University of Gdańsk. – says professor Ted Hupp, Director of the International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science, UG.
As many as 14 grants for a total amount of over EUR 2.2 million will be implemented in Poland as a result of the MSCA competition - It is vital to attract Polish scientists returning to Poland from abroad to our university. I am glad to see that scientists with work experience in world-class institutes decide to continue their research at the University of Gdańsk – adds professor Krzysztof Bielawski, Vice-Rector for Innovation and Cooperation with Socio-Economic Environment.
Wojciech Siwek obtained his BSc and MSc degrees at the University of Warsaw. He then got his PhD from the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw where he studied structural aspects of protein-DNA interactions. After that he moved for his postdoc to the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Lisbon, Portugal / University of Oxford, UK to study epigenetic mechanism in human cells. He is now a research fellow at Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA where he focuses on molecular mechanisms of transcriptional memory.