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Dr. rer. nat.
Christina Rathke


Karl-von-Frisch-Straße 8
D-35043 Marburg
Room No 3070
Tel: 0049 6421 28 23474
Fax: 0049 6421 28 21538
Mail: (click here)

Mondays 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
and by arrangement

Focus of research

Cell type-specific transcription programs are a major feature of metazoans prerequisite for the specialisation of different cell types during development and tissue maintenance. By a conserved cellular differentiation process, spermatogenesis leads to formation of haploid sperm for successful reproduction. In Drosophila and in mammals, post-meiotic spermatid differentiation depends on several translationally repressed and stored mRNAs that are often expressed exclusively in the testis through a cell type specific transcriptional program. We use Drosophila, mice and men to analyse testis-specific gene expression. Our main goal is to understand how bromodomain proteins act together with tissue-specific transcription factors to activate transcription of a special set of genes.

Chromatin changes in haploid male germ cells

Mature sperm are the means of transportation of the paternal genome to the egg. In mammals as well as in Drosophila, haploid spermatids undergo extensive morphological changes to obtain this transport ability. These include a striking reorganisation and compaction of chromatin whereby the nucleosomal, histone-based structure is nearly completely substituted by a tightly packaged protamine-based structure. The histone-to-protamine transition is characterised by transient DNA strand breaks, the transient expression of further chromatin components (transition proteins) and hyper-acetylation of histone H4 (reviewed in Rathke et al., 2014). Our aim is to understand the underlying mechanisms of chromatin reorganisation in spermatids.


Theofel I, Bartkuhn M, Hundertmark T, Boettger T, Gärtner SMK, Leser K, Awe S, Schipper M, Renkawitz-Pohl R, Rathke C. tBRD-1 Selectively Controls Gene Activity in the Drosophila Testis and Interacts with Two New Members of the Bromodomain and Extra-terminal (BET) Family. PLOS One 2014 Sep 24;9(9):e108267. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108267. eCollection 2014.abstract

Dottermusch-Heidel C, Klaus ES, Gonzalez NH, Bhushan S, Meinhardt A, Bergmann M, Renkawitz-Pohl R, Rathke C*, Steger K* (2014) H3K79 methylation directly precedes the histone-to-protamine transition in mammalian spermatids and is sensitive to bacterial infections. Andrology: doi: 10.1111/j.2047-2927.2014.00248.x. abstract
*shared last authorship

Gärtner SMK, Rathke C, Renkawitz-Pohl R, Awe S (2014) Dissection of Drosophila pupal testis and single male germ line cysts for ex vivo culture, pharmacological treatment and imaging of developing male germ cells. J Vis Exp: e51868, doi:10.3791/51868 abstract and movie

Dottermusch-Heidel C, Gärtner SMK, Tegeder I, Rathke C,, Barckmann B, Bartkuhn M, Bhushan S, Steger K, Meinhardt A, Renkawitz-Pohl R (2014). H3K79 methylation: a new conserved mark that accompanies H4 hyperacetylation prior to histone-to-protamine transition in Drosophila and rat. Biology Open 3: 444-452. abstract

Rathke C, Baarends WM, Awe S, Renkawitz-Pohl R. (2014). Chromatin dynamics during spermiogenesis. Invited review BBA – Gene Regulatory Mechanisms, Special Issue: Chromatin and epigenetic regulation of animal development.Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Sep 30. pii: S1874-9399(13)00138-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2013.08.004. [Epub ahead of print]. abstract

Doyen CM, Moshkin YM, Chalkley GE, Bezstarosti K, Demmers JA, Rathke C, Renkawitz-Pohl R, Verrijzer CP (2013). Subunits of the histone chaperone CAF1 also mediate assembly of protamine-based chromatin. Cell reports 4: 59-65. abstract

Barckmann B, Chen X, Kaiser S, Jayaramaiah-Raja S, Rathke C, Dottermusch-Heidel C, Fuller MT, Renkawitz-Pohl R. (2013). Three levels of regulation lead to protamine and Mst77F expression in Drosophila. Dev Biol 377: 33-45. abstract

Leser K, Awe S, Barckmann B, Renkawitz-Pohl R, Rathke C. (2012). The bromodomain-containing protein tBRD-1 is specifically expressed in spermatocytes and is essential for male fertility. Biology Open, Jun 15;1(6):597-606. abstract

Rathke C, Barckmann B, Burkhard S, Jayaramaiah-Raja S, Roote J, Renkawitz-Pohl R. (2010). Distinct functions of Mst77F and protamines in nuclear shaping and chromatin condensation during Drosophila spermiogenesis. Eur J Cell Biol. 89, 326-338. abstract

Bartkuhn M, Straub T, Herold M, Herrmann M, Rathke C, Saumweber H, Gilfillan GD, Becker PB, Renkawitz R. (2009). Active promoters and insulators are marked by the centrosomal protein 190. EMBO J. 28, 877-888. abstract

Rathke C, Baarends WM, Jayaramaiah-Raja S, Bartkuhn M, Renkawitz R, Renkawitz-Pohl R. (2007). Transition from a nucleosome-based to a protamine-based chromatin configuration during spermiogenesis in Drosophila. J. Cell Sci. 120, 1689-1700 (with cover picture). abstract

Hempel LU, Rathke C, Jayaramaiah Raja S, Renkawitz-Pohl R. (2006). In Drosophila, don juan and don juan like encode proteins of the spermatid nucleus and the flagellum and both are regulated at the transcriptional level by the TAFII80 Cannonball while translational repression is achieved by distinct elements. Dev Dyn. 235, 1053-1064. abstract

Acquired third-party funding

Since 2014 German Research Council (DFG) research grant for the sub-project „Chromatin dynamics in Drosophila spermatids“ within the “Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 81 (TRR 81)”.
Since 2013 German Research Council (DFG) research grant for the project „The role of bromodomain proteins for transcription of translationally repressed mRNAs with relevance for spermiogenesis and the identification of direct and indirect target genes of bromodomain proteins.Gepris
Since 2011 German Research Council (DFG) research grant for the sub-project „TAF4B-dependent transcription and its relevance for male fertility in humans“ within the clinical research group „Male factor infertility due to impaired spermatogenesis“ (KFO 181).

Other Activities

Member as supervisor within the „graduate centre for life and natural sciences“ (Philipps-Universität Marburg)

Member of the „Society of developmental biology“ GfE

Member of the „Genetics Society“ GfG

Expired third-party funding and former memberships

Mentee within the Mentoring-Project „ProProfessur“ of the five Hessian Universities (2012/2013)

Associated member of the “Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 81 (TRR 81) “Chromatin Changes in Differentiation and Malignancies” with „integrated Graduate School“ (Integrated Research Training Group (IRTG) "Epigenetics and Chromatin" (2010 to 2014)

Associated member of the International Graduate School “Transcriptional Control of Developmental Processes” (GRK 767) (12/2003 to 06/2010)

Grant of a proposal for funding a student assistant for 12 months by the foundation of the Philipps-Universität Marburg (2008).

Member of the „research group “Chromatin mediated biological decisions” (FOR 531) (03/2004 to 06/2007)


PhD Students Technical Staff
(„Lisa“) Klaus
Nicola Helena
Corinna Kilger (Email)

PhD Student

Technical Staff
Ina Theofel (Email) Christiane Rohrbach (Email)

PhD Student

Master Student
Tim Hundertmark (Email) Carolin Tetzner(Email)

Bachelor Student

Bachelor Student
Sabrina Schmelzer Christopher Feldewert


Vanessa Feyh, BSc, 2014

Dr. Katja Leser, PhD 2013

Zuletzt aktualisiert: 26.05.2015 · Katja Gessner

Fb. 17 - Biologie

Fb. 17 - Biologie, Karl-von-Frisch-Straße 8, D-35043 Marburg
Tel. +49 6421/28-23499, Fax +49 6421/28-22052, E-Mail: Fb-17Biologie@uni-marburg.de

URL dieser Seite: https://www.uni-marburg.de/fb17/fachgebiete/ebio/entwicklungsbiologie/rathke

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