Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Patrick Varga-Weisz

As of April 2018, Patrick has taken up a Lectureship in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Essex. Visit his page there for full details of his current research.

Research Summary

​Chromatin is a highly dynamic structure to accommodate its many tasks in regulating, organizing, safeguarding and packaging the genetic material. We are interested in understanding the mechanisms behind this sophisticated cellular machinery.

Key components that impart this dynamic state are special enzymes, so called chromatin remodelling factors, many of which target the nucleosome, the basic building block of chromatin.

The enzymology of chromatin remodelling is a largely new territory with opportunities for many exciting discoveries. One particular class of chromatin remodelling factors uses the energy gained by ATP hydrolysis to remodel nucleosomes: The nucleosome may be shifted, altered or blasted away, but some of these factors, such as Imitation Switch (ISWI), are also involved in nucleosome assembly.

The Varga-Weisz laboratory studies such ATP-dependent nucleosome remodelling factors, their role in the cell (in chromatin replication) and their mechanisms of action.

Latest Publications

Enzymatic Assays of Histone Decrotonylation on Recombinant Histones.
Fellows R, Varga-Weisz P

Class I histone deacetylases (HDACs) are efficient histone decrotonylases, broadening the enzymatic spectrum of these important (epi-)genome regulators and drug targets. Here, we describe an approach to assaying class I HDACs with different acyl-histone substrates, including crotonylated histones and expand this to examine the effect of inhibitors and estimate kinetic constants.

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Bio-protocol, 8, 2331-8325, , 2018

PMID: 30283810

Genome organization and chromatin analysis identify transcriptional downregulation of insulin-like growth factor signaling as a hallmark of aging in developing B cells.
Koohy H, Bolland DJ, Matheson LS, Schoenfelder S, Stellato C, Dimond A, Várnai C, Chovanec P, Chessa T, Denizot J, Manzano Garcia R, Wingett SW, Freire-Pritchett P, Nagano T, Hawkins P, Stephens L, Elderkin S, Spivakov M, Fraser P, Corcoran AE, Varga-Weisz PD

Aging is characterized by loss of function of the adaptive immune system, but the underlying causes are poorly understood. To assess the molecular effects of aging on B cell development, we profiled gene expression and chromatin features genome-wide, including histone modifications and chromosome conformation, in bone marrow pro-B and pre-B cells from young and aged mice.

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Genome biology, 19, 1474-760X, 126, 2018

PMID: 30180872

Microbiota derived short chain fatty acids promote histone crotonylation in the colon through histone deacetylases.
Fellows R, Denizot J, Stellato C, Cuomo A, Jain P, Stoyanova E, Balázsi S, Hajnády Z, Liebert A, Kazakevych J, Blackburn H, Corrêa RO, Fachi JL, Sato FT, Ribeiro WR, Ferreira CM, Perée H, Spagnuolo M, Mattiuz R, Matolcsi C, Guedes J, Clark J, Veldhoen M, Bonaldi T, Vinolo MAR, Varga-Weisz P

The recently discovered histone post-translational modification crotonylation connects cellular metabolism to gene regulation. Its regulation and tissue-specific functions are poorly understood. We characterize histone crotonylation in intestinal epithelia and find that histone H3 crotonylation at lysine 18 is a surprisingly abundant modification in the small intestine crypt and colon, and is linked to gene regulation. We show that this modification is highly dynamic and regulated during the cell cycle. We identify class I histone deacetylases, HDAC1, HDAC2, and HDAC3, as major executors of histone decrotonylation. We show that known HDAC inhibitors, including the gut microbiota-derived butyrate, affect histone decrotonylation. Consistent with this, we find that depletion of the gut microbiota leads to a global change in histone crotonylation in the colon. Our results suggest that histone crotonylation connects chromatin to the gut microbiota, at least in part, via short-chain fatty acids and HDACs.

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Nature communications, 9, 2041-1723, 105, 2018

PMID: 29317660

Group Members

Latest Publications

A novel phosphate-starvation response in fission yeast requires the endocytic function of Myosin I.

Petrini E, Baillet V, Cridge J

Journal of cell science
1477-9137: (2015)

PMID: 26345368

Chromatin remodeling: a collaborative effort.

Varga-Weisz PD

Nature structural & molecular biology
21 1545-9985:14-6 (2014)

PMID: 24389547

Keeping chromatin quiet: how nucleosome remodeling restores heterochromatin after replication.

JE Mermoud, SP Rowbotham, PD Varga-Weisz

Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)
10 23:4017-25 (2011)

DOI: 10.4161/cc.10.23.18558

PMID: 22101266

Insights into how chromatin remodeling factors find their target in the nucleus.

PD Varga-Weisz

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
107 46:19611-2 (2010)

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1014956107

PMID: 21059914

The SNF2-family member Fun30 promotes gene silencing in heterochromatic loci.

A Neves-Costa, WR Will, AT Vetter

PloS one
4 12:e8111 (2009)

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008111

PMID: 19956593

Fission yeast Iec1-ino80-mediated nucleosome eviction regulates nucleotide and phosphate metabolism.

CJ Hogan, S Aligianni, M Durand-Dubief

Molecular and cellular biology
30 3:657-74 (2010)

DOI: 10.1128/MCB.01117-09

PMID: 19933844