DNA methylation and Active Demethylation
Prof. Dr. Primo Leo Schär ➡ Dept. of Biomedizin, Univesity of Basel, Switzerland

Professor Primo Schär is a Research Group Leader at the Department of Biomedicine of the University of Basel. His group investigates biological processes that modulate genome plasticity, i.e. the stability of the genetic and epigenetic codes of cell identity. The objective is to provide a thorough understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved and the consequences of their dysfunction for cell fate, transformation and cancer. Pathways that control and modulate DNA methylation patterning in mammalian cells were poorly understood for a long time, although their importance in establishing and maintaining cell type-specific gene expression was well recognized. The discovery of proteins capable of converting 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to putative substrates for DNA repair introduced a novel and exciting conceptual framework for the investigation and ultimate discovery of molecular mechanisms of DNA demethylation. There is compelling evidence that DNA repair, in particular base excision repair, contributes significantly to the turnover of 5mC in cells. By actively demethylating DNA, DNA repair supports the developmental establishment as well as the maintenance of DNA methylation landscapes and gene expression patterns. Primo Schär has made seminal contributions revealing the impact of DNA base repair in regulation and maintenance of DNA methylation and active demethylation.
Selected publications
  • Manser, M., Sater, M. R. A., Schmid, C. D., Noreen, F., Murbach, M., Kuster, N., Schuermann, D. and Schär, P. (2017) “ELF-MF exposure affects the robustness of epigenetic programming during granulopoiesis”, Scientific Reports, 7, p. 43345. doi: 10.1038/srep43345.
  • Weber, A. R., Krawczyk, C., Robertson, A. B., Kusnierczyk, A., Vagbo, C. B., Schuermann, D., Klungland, A. and Schar, P. (2016) “Biochemical reconstitution of TET1-TDG-BER-dependent active DNA demethylation reveals a highly coordinated mechanism”, Nat Commun, 7, p. 10806. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10806.
  • Schuermann, D., Weber, A. R. and Schar, P. (2016) “Active DNA demethylation by DNA repair: Facts and uncertainties”, DNA Repair (Amst), 44, pp. 92-102. doi: 10.1016/j.dnarep.2016.05.013.
  • Liu, Y., Duong, W., Krawczyk, C., Bretschneider, N., Borbely, G., Varshney, M., Zinser, C., Schar, P. and Ruegg, J. (2016) “Oestrogen receptor beta regulates epigenetic patterns at specific genomic loci through interaction with thymine DNA glycosylase”, Epigenetics Chromatin, 9, p. 7. doi: 10.1186/s13072-016-0055-7.
  • Schuermann, D., Scheidegger, S. P., Weber, A. R., Bjoras, M., Leumann, C. J. and Schar, P. (2016) “3CAPS - a structural AP-site analogue as a tool to investigate DNA base excision repair”, Nucleic Acids Res, 44(5), pp. 2187-2198. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkv1520.
  • Li, Z., Gu, T. P., Weber, A. R., Shen, J. Z., Li, B. Z., Xie, Z. G., Yin, R., Guo, F., Liu, X., Tang, F., Wang, H., Schar, P. and Xu, G. L. (2015) “Gadd45a promotes DNA demethylation through TDG”, Nucleic Acids Res, 43(8), pp. 3986-3997. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkv283.
A full list can be found here.