Lukas Frank

Research Interest

    A growing body of evidence suggests a substantial role of RNA in shaping structure and function of chromatin. We are interested in understanding the role of nuclear RNAs as modulators of the epigenome and nuclear organization. The fact that the majority of chromatin-modifying or -remodeling enzyme complexes contain RNA-binding domains implies high occurrence of interactions between RNA and epigenetic effector complexes.

    We are particularly interested in histone H3 K27-trimethylation (H3K27me3), a histone modification generally associated with chromatin compaction and transcriptional repression. In mammals, this modification is set by polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), a conserved multi-protein histone methyltransferase. Previous studies have shown that PRC2 can bind RNA through two of its core subunits.In the light of these findings, various RNAs were proposed to modulate PRC2 recruitment or activity. Strikingly, however, most attempts to dissect the exact mechanisms behind these interactions led to a controversial view on the relationship between RNA and PRC2 and up to now, the sequence and structure prerequisites for PRC2-RNA interactions are only partially understood.

    In order to clarify the causal relationship between chromatin-associated RNAs and PRC2 recruitment and activity modulation, we would like to establish a locus-independent system for light-inducible recruitment of RNA to chromatin. Evaluating the effects of RNA recruitment on chromatin features in a timely controlled fashion will yield valuable observations that allow for a more precise dissection of both the general principles and the sequence of events behind these processes.

Scientific Background

  • since 09/2016: Research intern/Master student at the German Cancer Research Center(DKFZ) in the research group "Genome Organization & Function" of PD Dr. Karsten Rippe
  • 04/2016-07/2016: Research intern in the group of Prof. Dr. Lars Steinmetz, "Systems Genetics and Precision Health" at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Heidelberg. Project: "Genome-wide analysis of alternative 3' and 5' transcript isoform usage during replicative aging and environmental stress in Saccharomyces cerevisiae."
  • 10/2015-03/2016: Research intern in the group of Prof. Dr. Sven Diederichs, "RNA Biology & Cancer" at the German Cancer Research Center(DKFZ) in Heidelberg. Project: "Functional characterization of a cancer-associated long non-coding RNA required for mitotic progression."
  • 06/2015-09/2015: Research intern in the group of Dr. Sylvia Erhardt, "Regulators of Centromere Identity and Function" at the Centre for Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Heidelberg (ZMBH). Project: "Analysis of histone variant H3.3 inheritance along the intestinal stem cell lineage of Drosophila melanogaster."
  • 10/2012-today: Teaching tutor for undergraduate students, Faculty of Biosciences of the University of Heidelberg. Subjects: Inorganic and General Chemistry for Bioscientists, Organic Chemistry for Bioscientists, Exam preparation course: Section Biochemistry (Grundvorlesung 2)
  • 10/2014-today: University of Heidelberg: Master's programme "Molecular Biosciences", Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology.
  • 07/2014-09/2014: Research assistant in the group of Dr. Tamās Fischer(Biochemistry Center Heidelberg)
  • 10/2011-10/2014: University of Heidelberg: Bachelor's programme "Biosciences". Thesis at the Biochemistry Center of the University of Heidelberg (BZH) in the group of Dr. Tamās Fischer (Epigenetics and Genomic Stability). Thesis title: " A marker-based system to assess transcription-associated recombination and genomic stability in Schizosaccharomyces pombe."


L Nötzold, L Frank, M Gandhi, M Polycarpou-Schwarz, M Groß, M Gunkel, N Beil, H Erfle, N Harder, K Rohr, J Trendel, J Krijgsveld, T Longerich, P Schirmacher, M Boutros, S Erhardt, S Diederichs (2017) The long non-coding RNA LINC00152 is essential for cell cycle progression through mitosis in HeLa cells Scientific Reports 7, 2265. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-02357-0


    Lukas Frank

    DKFZ & BioQuant Center

    Research Group Genome Organization & Function

    Im Neuenheimer Feld 267-BQ24

    69120 Heidelberg


    BioQuant room 623

    Tel.: +49-6221-54-51374

    Fax: +49 6221 54 51487

    e-mail: l.frank (at)