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Jan Padeken

The interplay between heterochromatin, the stress response & premature ageing

The separation of our genome into euchromatin and heterochromatin is essential for faithfully orchestrating gene expression programmes and maintaining cellular resilience. Across a wide range of species, ageing is correlated with a reduction and reorganisation of heterochromatin. In healthy, young cells, heterochromatin marked by histone H3 lysine 9 methylation (H3K9me) represses repetitive elements and lineage-specific genes. Loss of H3K9me causes genome instability, loss of tissue integrity and premature ageing. Using C. elegans, we combine genetics, genomics and quantitative microscopy to study the impact of genotoxic stresses on the establishment and maintenance of heterochromatin, with the goal of better understanding the complex interplay between stresses experienced throughout life, the epigenome and ageing.

Research website

Positions held

  • 2022: Group Leader, Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), Mainz
  • 2013 - 2022: Postdoctoral researcher, Friedrich Miescher Institute, Basel


  • 2013: PhD in Cell Biology, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics
  • 2009: Diploma in Biology, Albert-Ludwigs University, Freiburg
  • 2006: Vordiploma in Biology, RWTH Aachen University

Selected publications by Jan Padeken

Delaney CE, Methot SP, Kalck V, Seebacher J, Hess D, Gasser SM and Padeken J (2022) SETDB1-like MET-2 promotes transcriptional silencing and development independently of its H3K9me-associated catalytic activityNat Struct Mol Biol, 29:85–96 Link

Padeken J, Methot SP and Gasser SM (2022) Establishment of H3K9-methylated heterochromatin and its functions in tissue differentiation and maintenanceNat Rev Mol Cell Biol, doi: 10.1038/s41580-022-00483-w Link

Methot SP*, Padeken J*, Brancati G, Zeller P, Delaney CE, Gaidatzis D, Kohler H, van Oudenaarden A, Großhans H and Gasser SM (2021) H3K9me selectively blocks transcription factor activity and ensures differentiated tissue integrityNat Cell Biol, 23:1163–1175 (*indicates joint contribution) Link

Padeken J, Methot S, Zeller P, Delaney CE, Kalck V and Gasser SM (2021) Argonaute NRDE-3 and MBT domain protein LIN-61 redundantly recruit an H3K9me3 HMT to prevent embryonic lethality and transposon expressionGenes Dev, 35:82–101 Link

Delaney CE*, Methot SP*, Guidi M*, Katic I, Gasser SM and Padeken J (2019) Heterochromatic foci and transcriptional repression by an unstructured MET-2/SETDB1 co-factor LIN-65J Cell Biol, 218:820–838 (*indicates joint contribution) Link