Portrait Inn Chung

Inn Chung

Research Interest: Telomere maintenance in cancer

The activation of a telomere maintenance mechanism is a prerequisite for unlimited proliferation and a hallmark of cancer cells.
Frequently, telomerase is reactivated that can extend the telomere repeat sequence. However, 10 – 15 % of tumors and several immortalized cell lines use an alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) mechanism for the maintenance of their telomere repeats via DNA repair and recombination processes.

In our studies we focus on

  • Implementing a classification scheme that identifies the active telomere maintenance mechanism in primary tumor samples (based on sequencing and imaging approaches and additional assays).
  • Functional analyses in human model cell lines to get mechanistic insights into the ALT pathway.
  • Searching for drug targets that specifically tackle ALT positive tumors.


This research is performed within the BMBF-funded CancerTelSys consortium.


Fig.1. The activation of a Telomere Maintenance Mechanism (TMM) is a hallmark of cancer cells.


Scientific Background

  • Since August 2015: Postdoctoral fellow in the Research Group Genome Organization and Function (PD Dr. Karsten Rippe) at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg
  • June 2012 - July 2015: Postdoctoral fellow at Xiaolan Zhao's lab, Dept. of Molecular Biology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA
  • Sept 2011 - May 2012: Postdoctoral fellow in the Research Group Genome Organization and Function (PD Dr. Karsten Rippe) at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg
  • Nov 2007 - Aug 2011: PhD thesis at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Research Group Genome Organization and Function (PD Dr. Karsten Rippe), Title of thesis: Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT)-associated Promyelocytic Leukemia Nuclear Bodies: Structure, Assembly and Function
  • Nov 2006 - Aug 2007 Diploma thesis at the Justus-Liebig-University, Gießen, Institute of Biochemistry (Alfred Pingoud) in the group of Gregor Meiß: Expression, Purification, and Biochemical Characterization of EXOG, a Novel Endo/exonuclease from Higher Eukaryotes



Publications as first or corresponding author:

  • Gunkel, M.*, Chung, I.*,#, Wörz, S*., Deeg, K.I., Simon, R., Sauter, G., Jones, D.T.W., Korshunov, A., Rohr, K.#, Erfle, H.#, Rippe, K.# (2016), Quantification of telomere features in tumor tissue sections by an automated 3D imaging-based workflow. Methods, *shared first authors, # corresponding authors
  • Chung, I. and Zhao, X. (2015), DNA break-induced sumoylation is enabled by collaboration between a SUMO ligase and the single-stranded DNA binding complex RPA. Genes and Development
  • Chung, I., and Zhao, X. (2013), A STUbL wards off telomere fusions. The EMBO Journal (Comment)
  • Chung, I., Osterwald, S., Deeg, K., Rippe, K. (2012), PML body meets telomere: the beginning of an ALTernate ending? Nucleus (Review)
  • Chung, I., Leonhardt, H., Rippe, K. (2011), De novo assembly of a PML nuclear subcompartment occurs through multiple pathways and induces telomere elongation. Journal of Cell Science

Other publications:

  • Deeg, K.I., Chung, I., Bauer, C., Rippe, K. (2016), Cancer Cells with Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres Do Not Display a General Hypersensitivity to ATR Inhibition. Frontiers in Oncology
  • Silva, S., Almannova, V., Eckert-Boulet, N., Kolesar, P., Gallina, I., Hang, L., Chung, I., Arneric, M., Zhao, X., Buron, L.D., Mortensen, U.H., Krejci, L., Lisby, M. (2016), SUMOylation of Rad52-Rad59 synergistically change the outcome of mitotic recombination. DNA repai
  • Osterwald, S.*, Deeg, K.I.*, Chung, I., Parisotto, D., Wörz, S., Rohr, K., Rippe, K. (2015), PML induces compaction, TRF2 depletion and DNA damage signaling at telomeres and promotes their alternative lengthening. Journal of Cell Science, *shared first author
  • Hang, L.E., Lopez, C.R., Liu, X., Williams, J.M., Chung, I., Wei, L., Bertuch, A.A., Zhao, X. (2014), Regulation of Ku-DNA association by Yku70 C-terminal tail and SUMO modification. Journal of Biological Chemistry
  • Lang, M., Jegou, T., Chung, I., Richter, K., Münch, S., Udvarhelyi, A., Cremer, C., Hemmerich, P., Engelhardt, J., Hell, S., and Rippe, K. (2010) Three-dimensional organization of promyelocytic leukemia nuclear bodies. Journal of Cell Science
  • Jegou, T., Chung, I., Heuvelmann, G., Wachsmuth, M., Görisch, S.M., Greulich-Bode, K., Boukamp, P., Lichter, P., Rippe, K. (2009), Dynamics of telomeres and PML nuclear bodies in a telomerase negative human cell line. Molecular Biology of the Cell
  • Cymerman, I.A., Chung, I., Beckmann, B.M., Bujnicki, J.M., Meiss G. (2008), EXOG, a novel paralog of Endonuclease G in higher eukaryotes. Nucleic Acids Research


Inn Chung

DKFZ & BioQuant Center

Research Group Genome Organization & Function

Im Neuenheimer Feld 267-BQ24

69120 Heidelberg


BioQuant room 623a

Tel.: +49-6221-54-51375

Fax: +49 6221 54 51487

e-mail: I.Chung (at)