Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne

A DFG-funded SPP consortium focusing on 3D genome architecture led by CMMC Junior Group Leader


Dr. Argyris Papantonis, Junior Group Leader for Chromatin Systems Biology at the CMMC will be co-coordinating a large German consortium on 3D genome architecture.


Model of the spatial folding of chromosomes inside a human fibroblast nucleus (adapted from Di Stefano et al, Sci Rep, 2016).

Prof. Dr. Stefan Mundlos - Berlin

Dr. Argyris Papantonis - Cologne

Argyris Papantonis, studying the spatial architecture of the human genome and its transcriptional output at the CMMC, teamed up with Professor Stefan Mundlos, who is studying human mutations giving rise to developmental disorders in the context of genomic architecture at the Charité in Berlin, and successfully convinced the German Research Foundation (DFG) to fund a six-year, multi-million Euro, consortium via a Research Priority Program (SPP2202). The two co-coordinators hope to see a cohesive and multi-disciplinary group of laboratories joining this SPP initiative with a particular focus on development and disease.

Although eukaryotic genomes carry the information that defines both general and specific characteristics of each cell type, the linear DNA sequence alone often fails to predict cellular functions and phenotypic outcomes. In fact, genomic information is modified and regulated by a number of additional layers. One of these, the spatial folding of chromosomes, has been recently identified as a major factor for gene regulation. This folding is established through binding of transcription factors and epigenetic mechanisms that act in a concerted manner to regulate gene expression. Therefore, studying the principles of 3D chromatin folding will allow us to unravel its contribution in gene regulation, development, and disease.

The primary goal of the SPP2202 is to dissect the structure-to-function relationship of the genomes of higher metazoans at high spatio-temporal resolution in study systems relevant to genome integrity, development or disease. We aim at bringing together a critical mass of research groups to undertake functional and mechanistic studies in vitro and in vivo, using model systems and human samples, to deepen our understanding of how spatial genome architecture crosstalks with the aforementioned processes. Proposed projects should have a clear and substantial focus on mechanisms and forces driving or maintaining 3D chromatin folding and its role in gene regulation.

Collaborative or standalone projects implementing a combination of advanced molecular biology tools, precision genetic mapping and editing, super‐resolution and/or live‐cell imaging with novel computational approaches are envisaged.

This is the first large-scale program in Germany that specifically focuses on the emerging topic of spatial genomic architecture, and is expected to pave the way for understanding chromosomal function and opening up novel means of therapeutic intervention.

Publication of the call
Proposals are expected to be submitted to the DFG, via its electronic submission system, by 15 October 2018, so as to be assessed at the beginning of 2019. The two co-coordinators can be contacted for informal inquiries. The official call and all additional details can be found at the DFG website under this URL:

  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Mundlos
    Institute of Medical and Human Genetics,
    Charité University Berlin,
    Augustenburger Platz 1,
    13353 Berlin,
    phone +49 30 450-569122

  • Dr. Argyris Papantonis
    Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne,
    University of Cologne,
    Robert-Koch-Str. 21,
    50931 Cologne,
    phone +49 221 478-96987,