Dr. Marit Vermunt

Epigenetic dysregulation is frequently observed in cancer. However, how exactly (mutated) transcription factors, architectural proteins such as CTCF or DNA methylation contribute to malignancy is often unknown. In the Vermunt group, we investigate the molecular mechanisms by which these features are involved in leukemogenesis. We focus on the identification of cancer-specific epigenetic states, transcripts and (micro)proteins that could be used as biomarkers of disease or as therapeutic targets. This is done by combining molecular biology experiments with bioinformatic analysis of next-generation sequencing data.

Marit Vermunt studied Biomedical Sciences (B.Sc. and M.Sc.) at the University of Leuven in Belgium. She performed her PhD research at the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands where she investigated brain enhancer evolution across primates in the lab of Dr. Menno Creyghton. In 2017, she moved to Philadelphia for a postdoc under supervision of Prof. Dr. Gerd Blobel. Here, she focused on transcriptional regulation by GATA1 and CTCF in red blood cells. In December 2022, she joined the department of pediatrics at the Uniklinik in Frankfurt.

We are excited to be part of the leukemia-research.de team and work closely together with clinicians and other scientists within the department. Our Junior Research Group is proud to be funded by the Max-Eder Program of the Deutsche Krebshilfe.

Awards and Honors:

2018 NWO Rubicon Postdoctoral Fellowship

2019 EMBO Long-Term Fellowship

2021 American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship

2023 Research Grant by the Verein Hilfe für krebskranke Kinder Frankfurt

2023 Funding for Project within the DFG Forschungsgruppe “Herzblut”

2024 Deutsche Krebshilfe Max-Eder Junior Research Group

Key publications:

Vermunt MW*, Luan J, Zhang Z, Thrasher AJ, Huang A, Saari MS, Khandros E, Beagrie RA, Zhang S, Vemulamada P, Brilleman M, Lee K, Yano JA, Giardine BM, Keller CA, Hardison RC, Blobel GA#. Gene silencing dynamics are modulated by transiently active regulatory elements. Molecular Cell. 2023 Mar 2;83(5):715-730.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2023.02.006. PubMed PMID: 36868189. *Co-corresponding author

Luan J*, Vermunt MW*, Syrett CM, Coté A, Tome JM, Zhang H, Huang A, Luppino JM, Keller CA, Giardine BM, Zhang S, Dunagin MC, Zhang Z, Joyce EF, Lis JT, Raj A, Hardison RC, Blobel GA. CTCF blocks antisense transcription initiation at divergent promoters. Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. 2022 Nov;29(11):1136-1144. doi: 10.1038/s41594-022-00855-y. Epub 2022 Nov 11. PubMed PMID: 36369346. *Co-corresponding author

Kozlenkov A*, Vermunt MW*, Apontes P*, Li J, Hao K, Sherwood CC, Hof PR, Ely JJ, Wegner M, Mukamel EA, Creyghton MP, Koonin EV, Dracheva S. Evolution of regulatory signatures in primate cortical neurons at cell-type resolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS). 2020 Nov 10;117(45):28422-28432. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2011884117. Epub 2020 Oct 27. PubMed PMID: 33109720. *Co-first author

Vermunt MW, Tan SC, Castelijns B, Geeven G, Reinink P, de Bruijn E, Kondova I, Persengiev S, Bontrop R, Cuppen E, de Laat W, Creyghton MP. Epigenomic annotation of gene regulatory alterations during evolution of the primate brain. Nature Neuroscience. 2016 Mar;19(3):494-503. doi: 10.1038/nn.4229. Epub 2016 Jan 25. PubMed PMID: 26807951.

Vermunt MW*, Reinink P*, Korving J, de Bruijn E, Creyghton PM, Basak O, Geeven G, Toonen PW, Lansu N, Meunier C, van Heesch S, Clevers H, de Laat W, Cuppen E, Creyghton MP. Large-scale identification of coregulated enhancer networks in the adult human brain. Cell Reports. 2014 Oct 23;9(2):767-79. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.09.023. Epub 2014 Oct 16. PubMed PMID: 25373911. *Co-first author

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