Maria Cristina Gambetta, tenure-track Assistant Professor

Maria Cristina Gambetta received a joint PhD in 2010 from the EMBL in Heidelberg (Germany) and the University of Geneva (Switzerland), and performed post-doctoral research at the Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried (Germany), studying molecular mechanisms of epigenetic gene silencing by Polycomb transcriptional repressors under the supervision of Jürg Müller. During her post-doctoral training at the EMBL in the laboratory of Eileen Furlong, she studied the role of chromatin architecture in gene activation. She is joining the Center for Integrative Genomics in January 2018 as Assistant Professor to study how cells organize the activating and repressive regulatory inputs that are necessary to achieve appropriate gene expression patterns.

Research summary

Gene expression is regulated at multiple steps – a fundamental level of which is the control of gene promoters by their cognate regulatory elements, that determine when and in which cells a gene is to be expressed or silenced. A basic yet unanswered question is how regulatory elements find their targets amidst a jungle of possible interactions – a search that often involves skipping over non-targets and can stretch over long distances. We will study this riddle by investigating a class of protein factors that are believed to regulate genome architecture, called insulator-binding proteins. We use the fruitfly (Drosophila melanogaster) as a model, because it is well suited for a wide variety of experimental manipulations, and because of the numerous well-studied examples in which elaborate gene regulation is deployed to control developmental processes.

We will use a multidisciplinary approach to study the biological roles of fly insulator-binding proteins and their molecular mechanisms of action. Three main goals of our research are: (1) to characterize the molecular phenotypes of insulator-binding protein mutants; (2) to identify their protein partners through tandem affinity purifications; (3) to analyze the biophysical properties of recombinantly purified insulator-binding proteins. The techniques we will apply include genetic engineering of the fly genome, genomics, in vivo and in vitro biochemistry, and live-imaging of developing fly embryos. Long-term goals include the screening for new factors and principles that participate in organizing regulatory interactions in the genome.


Masters, PhD and Postdoc positions available; people interested in joining the team are encouraged to write directly to


Gambetta, M.C. & Müller, J. (2015), ‘A critical perspective of the diverse roles of O-GlcNAc transferase in chromatin.’, Chromosoma 124(4), 429–442.

Gambetta, M.C. & Müller J. (2014), ‘O-GlcNAcylation prevents aggregation of the Polycomb group repressor Polyhomeotic.’, Developmental Cell 31(5), 629-639.

Alfieri C. & Gambetta M.C.; Matos R.; Glatt S.; Sehr P.; Fraterman S.; Wilm M.; Müller J.; Müller C.W. (2013), ‘Structural basis for targeting the chromatin repressor Sfmbt to Polycomb response elements.’, Genes & Development 27(21), 2367-2379.

Gutiérrez, L.; Oktaba, K.; Scheuermann, J.C.; Gambetta, M.C.; Ly-Hartig, N.; Müller, J. (2012), ‘The role of the histone H2A ubiquitinase Sce in Polycomb repression.’, Development 139(1), 117-127.

Gambetta, M.C.; Oktaba, K.; Müller, J. (2009), ‘Essential role of the glycosyltransferase sxc/Ogt in polycomb repression.’, Science 325(5936), 93-96.


Maria Cristina Gambetta
Tel: +41 21 692 3985

Administrative assistant

Iris Marouani
Tel: +41 21 692 3960

Génopode - CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 22 00
Fax +41 21 692 22 11