Research project

Our group’s research focuses on the molecular and cell biology of lipid activated transcription factors, so called nuclear receptors, which can regulate cell differentiation and several metabolic pathways.

We are interested in the molecular details of hormone action. Lipid soluble hormones such as oestrogens and retinoids act via nuclear receptors which bind to and regulate the expression of certain genes. To positively or negatively regulate gene expression they need to communicate with other proteins (co-regulators). We try to understand the details and molecular determinants of these interactions using molecular and cell biological approaches.

We are also interested in the biological function of nuclear receptors. There are nuclear receptors such as PPARγ, RARα, LXR and VDR which appear to have role in regulating gene transcription of monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells in a metabolic state dependent manner. We try to understand how these receptors modulate macrophage and dendritic cell function, which genes or gene networks get activated by them and what is their contribution to disease states such as diabetes, obesity, inflammation and atherosclerosis.

I started my research activity as student in 2002. I worked with human monocyte-derived dendritic cells investigating the transcriptional changes after the ligand dependent activation of PPARγ and RARα during the DC differentiation.

In order to validate our results in vivo I started to work with mouse models when I became a PhD student. First I characterized which nuclear receptor isotypes can we activate upon ligand treatment using in vitro mouse bone marrow-derived DC systems. I characterized different DC subtypes using flow cytometry analysis and detection of elevated expression of target genes with „real-time“ QPCR proved that PPARγ and RARα pathways functions also in mouse DCs.

We also use different transgenic models to investigate the phenotipic effects of the absence of PPARγ. Using these animal models we carried out microarray experiments to identify new potential PPARγ target genes and pathways. These microarray experiments open new fields of our research, so I have to learn new methods and approaches for effective research.