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Prof. Dr. Renato Paro

Prof. Dr. Renato Paro
Mattenstrasse 26
4058-Basel / Switzerland

Phone +41 61 387 31 20
Fax +41 61 387 39 96

Renato Paro is the Chair of the new ETH Zurich Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering in Basel and Professor of Biosystems at the University of Basel. His research focuses on the epigenetic gene control during tissue regeneration. His group uses Drosophila melanogaster and in particular the development of imaginal discs to study cellular plasticity during regeneration. Imaginal discs of Drosophila larvae provide an excellent model system to study maintenance of cell determination prior to the differentiation process, as imaginal disc cells show a stem cell-like behavior. Transplantation experiments indicated that imaginal discs are able to maintain their determined state over many cell generations independent of their position. Fragmented discs regenerate structures upon cultivation in the hemolymph of adult flies. However, occasionally disc cells change their fate, a phenomenon termed „transdetermination“.
Organ regeneration requires a considerable change of gene expression patterns in the cells forming the new tissue. Patterning genes need to be reactivated to allow an appropriate remodeling of the tissue. Subsequently epigenetic mechanisms of transcriptional memory are required to maintain the newly determined state of cells. The proteins of the Polycomb group (PcG) maintain target genes permanently inactive, by generating silenced chromatin domains. Conversely, the proteins of the Trithorax group (TrxG) maintain the genes active by counteracting PcG-repressive chromatin structures. Regeneration and transdetermination events are coupled to PcG/TrxG regulation. Interference with PcG/TrxG control is required to engineer the differentiation of stem cells into various other cell types.

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Recent publications related to stem cells

  • Strübbe G, Popp C, Schmidt A, Pauli A, Ringrose L, Beisel C. and Paro R. (2011). Polycomb purification by in vivo biotinylation tagging reveals cohesin and Trithorax group proteins as interaction partners. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108:5572-7.
  • Sawarkar R, Sievers C. and Paro R. (2012). Hsp90 globally targets paused RNA polymerase to regulate gene expression in response to environmental stimuli. Cell 149:807-18.
  • Tariq M, Wegrzyn R, Anwar S, Bukau B, Paro R. (2013). Drosophila GAGA factor polyglutamine domains exhibit prion-like behavior. BMC Genomics 14:374.
  • Kockmann T, Gerstung M, Schlumpf T, Xhinzhou Z, Hess D, Beerenwinkel N, Beisel C, Paro R. (2013). The BET protein FSH functionally interacts with ASH1 to orchestrate global gene activity in Drosophila. Genome Biol. 14(2):R18.
  • Comoglio F, Schlumpf T, Schmid V, Rohs R, Beisel C, Paro R. (2015). High-resolution profiling of Drosophila replication start sites reveals a DNA shape and chromatin signature of metazoan origins. Cell Rep. 11:821-34.
  • Katsuyama T, Comoglio F, Seimiya M, Cabuy E, Paro R. (2015). During Drosophila disc regeneration, JAK/STAT coordinates cell proliferation with Dilp8-mediated developmental delay. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112:E2327-36.
  • Yilmaz A, Engeler R, Constantinescu S, Kokkaliaris KD, Dimitrakopoulos C, Schroeder T, Beerenwinkel N, Paro R. (2015). Ectopic expression of Msx2 in mammalian myotubes recapitulates aspects of amphibian muscle dedifferentiation. Stem Cell Res. 15:542-53.
  • Katsuyama T, Paro R. (2016). Imaginal Disc Transplantation in Drosophila. Methods Mol Biol. 1480:301-10.
  • Akmammedov A, Katsuyama T, Paro R. (2016). A Rapid TALEN Assembly Protocol. Methods Mol Biol. 1480:269-81.
  • Akmammedov A, Geigges M, Paro R. (2017). Single vector non-leaky gene expression system for Drosophila melanogaster. Sci Rep. 7:6899.


  • Sawarkar R. and Paro R. (2010). Interpretation of developmental signaling at chromatin: the Polycomb perspective. Dev Cell 19:651-61.
  • Katsuyama T. and Paro R. (2011). Epigenetic reprogramming during tissue regeneration. FEBS Lett. 585:1617-24.
  • Beisel C. and Paro R. (2011). Silencing chromatin: comparing modes and mechanisms. Nat Rev Genet. 12:123-35.
  • Sawarkar R, Paro R. (2013). Hsp90@chromatin.nucleus: an emerging hub of a networker. Trends Cell Biol. 23:193-201.
  • Sievers C, Paro R. (2013). Polycomb group protein bodybuilding: working out the routines. Dev Cell 26:556-8.
  • Grossniklaus U, Paro R. (2014). Transcriptional silencing by polycomb-group proteins. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 6:a019331.
  • Geisler SJ, Paro R. (2015). Trithorax and Polycomb group-dependent regulation: a tale of opposing activities. Development 142:2876-87.
  • Beira JV, Paro R. (2016). The legacy of Drosophila imaginal discs. Chromosoma 125:573-92.