Lukas Frank

Research Interest

    A growing body of evidence suggests a substantial role of RNA in shaping structure and function of chromatin in both healthy and cancerous cells. Specific functions of chromatin-associated RNAs (caRNAs) include recruitment and modulation of epigenetic regulators and transcription factors as well as regulation of chromatin architecture. However, there is still controversy on the precise mechanisms of RNA-mediated epigenetic signaling, since targeted perturbation of caRNAs in their native chromatin environment remains challenging.

    My research interest lies in developing strategies for site-specific recruitment of RNA and RNA-protein complexes to chromatin of mammalian cells using engineered components of the CRISPR/Cas9 system in order to dissect the causality between caRNAs and epigenetic states in human cancer. I focus on telomeres as a specialized chromatin environment that is also regulated by non-coding RNA species (e.g. telomere-repeat contaning RNA/TERRA). Cancer cells evolve telomere maintenance mechanisms in order to achieve replicative immortality. Although telomere-derived RNAs were implicated in regulation of telomere stability and architecture, the precise mechanisms of action and their functional interaction with chromatin remains enigmatic.

Scientific Background

  • since 01/2017: PhD student in Prof. Karsten Rippe's group (DKFZ)
  • 09/2016-12/2017: Research internship and Master thesis. at the German Cancer Research Center(DKFZ) in the group "Chromatin Networks" of Prof. Karsten Rippe. Topic: "Site-specific recruitment of RNA to chromatin using engineered dCas9 complexes"
  • 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
  • 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. Tam�s 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. Tam�s Fischer (Epigenetics and Genomic Stability). Thesis title: " A marker-based system to assess transcription-associated recombination and genomic stability in Schizosaccharomyces pombe."


L N�tzold, L Frank, M Gandhi, M Polycarpou-Schwarz, M Gro�, 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

    Division of Chromatin Networks

    Im Neuenheimer Feld 267-BQ24

    69120 Heidelberg


    BioQuant room 622a

    Tel.: +49-6221-54-51373

    Fax: +49 6221 54 51487

    e-mail: l.frank (at)