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Prof. Dr.

Walter Doerfler

Wahljahr: 1997
Sektion: Humangenetik und Molekulare Medizin
Stadt: Erlangen
Land: Deutschland

Forschung

Walter Doerfler has made many contributions to molecular genetics and molecular virology, most of them from Rockefeller University in New York (1966-1972) and the Institute of Genetics in Cologne, Germany (1972-2002). His laboratory is best known for seminal work on the molecular biology of adenoviruses. He was the first to document genomic integration of adenovirus DNA into the genome of Ad12-transformed and tumor cells (1968) and the de novo methylation of integrated adenovirus DNA (1978). Moreover, the demonstration of an inverse correlation between the extent of promoter methylation and its activity in 1980 marked the beginning of a world-wide interest in the long-term inactivation of promoters by sequence-specific promoter methylation. Work on promoter methylation and inactivation became the basis for the emerging field of Epigenetics. The notion that de novo methylation can be viewed as a cellular defense mechanism against the activity of foreign genes led to studies on the fate of food-ingested DNA in the mouse organism (1988-2003). Food-ingested DNA persists transiently in the gut and in several mouse organs, might occasionally become genomically integrated in spleen cells, but is not transcribed and does not enter the germ line of mice.

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