2017 research activities

Head Prof. Naama Barkai

Picture of Prof. Naama Barkai

Prof. Naama Barkai

Office +972-8-934-4429


The molecular basis of genetics and related biological processes are under investigation in our Department. The investigators approach these processes from the most reduced and reconstructed systems up to more systemic and computational analysis. Different organisms are employed including virus, yeast, Drosophila, mouse and human. These animal models and cell culture systems are used to study the mechanisms of;
a. Basic processes in gene expression, such as transcription, translation and protein degradation.
b. Cellular responses to various stimuli, such as cytokines, growth factors and exposure to DNA-damage.
c. Regulation of cell growth, senescence, differentiation and death.
d. Development; Mechanistic view of zygote to embryo transition and development of various organs, such as brain, muscles, bones and pancreas.
e. Genetic and acquired diseases such as cancer and virus infection. Embryonic stem cell biology, early development and advance human disease modeling.
f. Study of pluripotent stem cell biology and epigenetic reprogramming.
g. Computational and system biology. The function/evolution of genes and their diversification.

ScientistsShow details

  • Picture of Prof. Eli Arama

    Prof. Eli Arama

    Genetic regulation of apoptosis and its molecular mechanisms.
    Roles of caspases in “conventional” apoptosis and during cellular remodeling.

  • Picture of Prof. Ari Elson

    Prof. Ari Elson

    Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases and Cell Signaling
    Role of tyrosine phosphatases in regulating production and function of bone-resorbing osteoclasts
    Osteoclast-related diseases: osteoporosis, osteopetrosis, cancer-related bone loss
    Roles of tyrosine phosphatases in regulating body mass.
    Roles of tyrosine phosphatases in diabetes and blood glucose homeostasis

  • Picture of Prof. Jeffrey Gerst

    Prof. Jeffrey Gerst

    Intracellular and Intercellular mRNA trafficking
    Intracellular mRNA trafficking in yeast and its role in organelle biogenesis and cell physiology
    Intercellular trafficking of mRNAs in mammalian cells and its role in cell physiology
    Genome-wide mapping of mRNA localization in yeast
    Specialized ribosomes in the control of protein translation
    Identification of genes involved in chemotropism and chemotaxis

  • Picture of Prof. Yoram Groner

    Prof. Yoram Groner

    Molecular genetics of Down syndrome.
    Dynamic combinatorial interactions of RUNX1 and cooperating partners during megakaryocytic differentiation
    Collaboration with:  Amos Tanay Department of Computer Science & Applied Mathematics
    Biological function of the RUNX transcription factors
    Positive and negative transcriptional regulation by Runx3
    The Human Leukemia Associated Transcription Factor RUNX1/AML1 and Down syndrome leukemia

  • Picture of Dr. Jacob (Yaqub) Hanna

    Dr. Jacob (Yaqub) Hanna

    Deciphering Cellular Reprogramming
    Following a breakthrough that was made in 2006 (by Takahashi & Yamanaka), today we can reverse cellular differentiation, and generate induced pluripotent stem cells from somatic cells by epigenetic “reprogramming”. We investigate what are the dramatic molecular changes happening in the cell during reprogramming and how they are connected to similar in-vivo processes. We pointed out two chromatin regulators that play a role in this process, one is essential for reprogramming (Utx, Mansour et al 2012), and the other (Mbd3/NuRD, Rais et al 2013) is an obstacle, which upon its near-removal the reprogramming becomes dramatically faster and synchronized.
    Understanding Naïve and Primed Pluripotent States
    Being able to generate all cell types, mouse embryonic stem cells are a most valuable tool for research. They can be found in the developing mouse embryo in two distinct states: naïve – in the blastocyst, and primed – in the post-implantation epiblast. These two states are distinct in various aspects, most notable, only naïve cells can contribute efficiently to chimera. Naïve and primed cells can be sustained in-vitro, and are dependent on distinct signaling. In human, naïve stem cells were out of reach for a long time. We investigate the regulation of naïve and primed pluripotent stem cell in mouse and human. Specifically, we were able to maintain human stem cells in a “naive” state, with distinct molecular and functional properties, including enhanced ability to contribute to cross-species mouse chimeric embryos (Gafni et al, 2013). In addition, we found that mRNA methylation has a critical role in facilitating degradation of pluripotent genes, an essential step during the switch from naïve to primed states, both in-vitro and in-vivo (Geula et al, 2014). Our current studies involve elucidating molecular regulation of these states across different species, and define how their molecular architecture dictates their functional competence.
    Human-Mouse Cross-Species Chimerism
    Human stem cells that are sustained in naïve culture conditions, can be injected to mouse blastocyst and contribute to cross-species chimera (Gafni et al, 2013). We investigate these chimeric mice, which are valuable tool for human disease modeling in a whole-organism context.

  • Picture of Prof. Adi Kimchi

    Prof. Adi Kimchi

    Programmed Cell Death: from single genes and molecular pathways towards systems level studies
    Deciphering the roles of the DAP genes in programmed cell death
    Systems biology analysis of the programmed cell death network
    Functional annotations of a family of death-associated kinases: DAPk, DRP-1 and ZIPk
    Protein translation control during cell death: structure/function analysis of the DAP5 gene

  • Picture of Prof. Doron Lancet

    Prof. Doron Lancet

    Genomic and evolutionary analyses of molecular recognition systems.
    Identification and molecular cloning of members of the olfactory receptor multigene family, including studies of their genome organization, evolution and polymorphisms in humans.
    Computer analyses of structural models of olfactory receptors and other transmembrane proteins and of receptor affinity distributions.
    Bioinformatics analysis of long-range DNA sequences and development of whole-genome databases.
    Computer simulations of selection and evolution in current living organisms and at the origin of life.

  • Picture of Prof. Shmuel Pietrokovski

    Prof. Shmuel Pietrokovski

    Developing computational methods for using and identifying protein motifs and applying them for the analysis of particular protein families.
    Developing advanced methods for comparing protein motifs.
    Applying protein motif comparisons for functional and structural predictions and to database annotation.
    Analysis of inteins ("protein splicing" elements) and homing endonucleases.

  • Picture of Prof. Orly Reiner

    Prof. Orly Reiner

    Formation of the brain structure in human is a complex process. One of the most striking features of the human brain is characteristic convolutions. These convolutions are lacking in a severe human brain malformation known as lissencephaly (smooth brain).
    Identification of genes that are downstream to Lis1 mutation using microarray technology.
    Study of LIS1 and DCX functions through characterization of protein interactions
    Analysis of the developmental function of LIS1, DCX and Doublecortin-like-kinase using gene targeting in the mouse.
    Functional Analysis of Genes Involved in Lissencephaly.

  • Picture of Prof. Michel Revel

    Prof. Michel Revel

    Applications of IL-6 Chimera and Interferon-beta in neurology, hematopoiesis, and oncology.
    Collaboration with:  J. Chebath
    Interleukin-6 Chimera, a superactivator of the gp130 receptor system: role in nerve myelination, neuroprotection and in the development of neuro-glial cells from embryonic tissues and stem cells.
    Collaboration with:  J. Chebath
    Transdifferentiation of neural crest cell derived melanoma into myelinating Schwann cell. Genes controlling cell growth, differentiation, melanogenesis and synthesis of myelin proteins.
    Collaboration with:  J. Chebath
  • Picture of Prof. Menachem Rubinstein

    Prof. Menachem Rubinstein

    Role of FABP4 in ER stress - imlications in the metabolic syndrome
    Collaboration with:  Rinat OZ
    Cytokine receptors and binding proteins
    Collaboration with:  D. Novick
    LDL receptor as a cellular virus entry port
    Collaboration with:  Danit Finkelshtein-Beker, Ariel Werman, Daniela Novick
    Regulation and role of endoplasmic reticulum stress in cell survival and cell death
    Collaboration with:  Efrat Dvash, Rina Vasserman, Ofir Meir, Chiara Riganti (University of Turin, Italy).
    Role of MGST2 in DNA damage and cell death
    Role of MGST2 in chemotherapy-triggered cell death
    Role of C/EBP beta in drug resistance of tumor cells

  • Picture of Prof. Maya Schuldiner

    Prof. Maya Schuldiner

    Functional genomics of organelles
    Creation of Systematic Libraries for screening
    Creation of High Throughput Electron Microscopy Approaches for high resolution screens
    Membrane contact sites
    Mitochondria Contact Sites
    Peroxisome Contact Sites
    Lipid Droplet Contact Sites
    Peroxisome Physiology
    Discovering new peroxisomal proteins and their functions

  • Picture of Prof. Yosef Shaul

    Prof. Yosef Shaul

    Transcription regulation of the hepatitis B virus. To understand how overlapping promoters are autonomously functional.
    The molecular basis of virus-host cell interaction. How HBV modifies cell behavior.
    The activation and the role of c-Abl-p73 signaling axis in response to DNA damage and cancer.
    modulation of Hippo signaling by c-Abl; the role of Yap1 and TAZ transcription coactivators in cell proliferation and in apoptosis
    proteasomes as a target in cancer therapy
    proteasome composition, dynamics, function and regulation and various conditions.
    proteasomal degradation of intrinsically disordered proteins (IUP or IDP). the concept of degradation by default

  • Picture of Prof. Rotem Sorek

    Prof. Rotem Sorek

    Phage biology
    Regulation of antibiotics resistance
    Microbiome research
    Communication between viruses
    Computational microbial genomics and metagenomics
    Microbial transcriptomics
    Computational discovery of novel natural antibiotics
    Next generation sequencing

  • Picture of Prof. Elazar Zelzer

    Prof. Elazar Zelzer

    the roles of the VEGF pathway in different steps during skeletal development.
    Studying the role of mechanical load on embryonic bone development