Simon Elsässer is an Assistant Professor at the department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet. He has been studying epigenetic gene regulation in embryonic stem cells during his doctoral and postdoctoral work. He has more recently developed novel synthetic biology tools for elucidating the function of proteins inside of living cells and is now establishing a research focus on the small proteome. Short peptides encoded by short open reading frames (sPEPs) are translated abundantly in prokaryotic and eukarytic cells, yet their functions remain mysterious. While examples of such peptides performing essential functions in human tissues are known for over a decade, the breadth and universal relevance of peptides encoded in short open reading frames is only beginning to be explored. Exemplary studies suggest that sPEPs provide a means of intracellular signalling as well as communication between cells within a tissue or between organs in a living animal. Understanding the function of sPEPs may bolster our ability to orchestrate cellular reprogramming or organ development as they could be easily mimicked in vitro. Simon’s research will focus on elucidating the interactomes and functions of sPEPs with respect to their role in intra- and inter-tissue communication. Translational aspects of his research aim to identify new biomarkers, drug targets or blueprints for novel drugs in the small proteome. Through the Ming Wai Lau Center collaborative research environment, Simon aims to elucidate the role of sPEPs in stem cell biology and lineage specification.
Elsässer SJ, Ernst RJ, Walker OS, Chin JW, “Genetic code expansion in stable cell lines enables encoded chromatin modification”, Nature Methods (2016)
Walker OS, Elsässer SJ, Mohan M, Bachman M, Balasubramanian S, Chin JW, “Photoactivation of mutant isocitrate dehydrogenase 2 reveals rapid cancer-associated metabolic and epigenetic changes”, JACS (2016)
Elsässer SJ*, Noh KM, Diaz N, Allis CD, Banaszynski LA*, “Histone H3.3 is required for endogenous retroviral element silencing and genome stability”, Nature (2015)