SciLifeLab The Svedberg seminar series 2014-02-17

Karl Ekwall

Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet

Karl Ekwall is Professor of Medical Genetics and Epigenetics at the Department  of Biosciences and Nutrition at Karolinska Institutet. He received a PhD degree in Molecular Biology at Uppsala University in 1994, and performed postdoctoral research at the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh during 1994-98. After returning to Sweden he became one of the pioneers in the field of epigenetics, and is engaged in basic research on epigenetic mechanisms using fission yeast as a model system. More recently he has also taken an interest in the epigenetics of acute leukemia.


“Characterization of SNF2 chromatin remodeling enzymes in yeast, their roles in human blood cell differentiation and epigenetics of acute myeloid leukemia (AML)”



SNF2 chromatin remodeling enzymes are ATP-dependent helicases, which can assemble, disassemble and slide nucleosomes to define the chromatin landscape in eukaryotes. This landscape governs access of DNA dependent processes such as transcription and DNA repair and is reflected in higher order chromatin structures/nuclear organization. First I will discuss the nucleosome spacing function of the SNF2 enzyme CHD1 in fission yeast. I will report on our recent funding that histone H2B monoubiquitination promotes noncoding transcription at centromeres and chromatin integrity. A function possibly related to the role of the E3 ub-ligase RNF20 as a tumor suppressor. Next, I will discuss the role of SNF2 enzymes in human blood cell differentiation. We have found cell type lineage and leukaemia specific expression of several SNF2 enzymes implicating specific enzymes such as CHD4 and SMARCA4 in myeloid blood cell differentiation and oncogenesis.  Finally, I will describe our efforts bridging pre-clinical and clinical research to explore how epigenome changes in AML as prognostic tools.

Host: Ann-Christine Syvänen