FREG sponsorship for PhD students

PhD students at the CIG can apply to the FREG funds (Fund for Research and Education in Genetics) which sponsors their participation to either an international conference or course during their thesis. (up to CHF 2’500,-).

To apply, email Nathalie Clerc and CC your PI, specifying the name of the course/meeting, its date and what you will present.

After the meeting/course the grantee will need to write a short report in the form of a letter to the Grace family describing the benefits for him/her attending the meeting/course (a template will be provided).

Congratulations to Shanaz on her Musy Prize!

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We are delighted to announce that Shanaz Diessler emerged victorious at the “EPFL Startup Champions Seed Night 2023,” securing the esteemed Musy Prize for her groundbreaking high-tech start-up project. The Musy Prize, awarded biennially, recognizes exceptional women entrepreneurs in the field of high technology, and Dr Diessler’s achievement is a testament to her ingenuity and entrepreneurial prowess. Congratulations to Shanaz on this well-deserved recognition of her visionary work!

Further information:

Swiss Young Immunology Society Symposium 2023, on Aug. 23, in Bern (CH)

The SYIS is thrilled to open the registration to the SYIS Annual Symposium! This year, the event will take place on August 23, 2023 in the Auditorium Ettore Rossi at Inselspital (Bern).
Attendees will have the chance to join excellent immunological talks, present their posters in interactive sessions and network with immunologists from all over Switzerland. 
This event is open to both SYIS and non-SYIS members, and we encourage scientists from all career stages to attend. Registration is possible until August 1, 2023, while abstract submission will close on June 30, 2023 at 23.59.
You can register and find more information here.

BMC Biol.: co-auth.: A.Reymond

BMC Biol. 2023 May 8;21(1):103. doi: 10.1186/s12915-023-01606-1.

Secondary structure of the human mitochondrial genome affects formation of deletions

Victor Shamanskiy # 1Alina A Mikhailova # 1Evgenii O Tretiakov # 2Kristina Ushakova # 1Alina G Mikhailova # 1 3Sergei Oreshkov 1Dmitry A Knorre 4Natalia Ree 1Jonathan B Overdevest 5Samuel W Lukowski 6Irina Gostimskaya 7 8Valerian Yurov 1Chia-Wei Liou 9Tsu-Kung Lin 9Wolfram S Kunz 10 11Alexandre Reymond 12 13Ilya Mazunin 14Georgii A Bazykin 14 15Jacques Fellay 16Masashi Tanaka 17 18 19Konstantin Khrapko 20Konstantin Gunbin 1 21Konstantin Popadin 22 23 24


Background: Aging in postmitotic tissues is associated with clonal expansion of somatic mitochondrial deletions, the origin of which is not well understood. Such deletions are often flanked by direct nucleotide repeats, but this alone does not fully explain their distribution. Here, we hypothesized that the close proximity of direct repeats on single-stranded mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) might play a role in the formation of deletions.

Results: By analyzing human mtDNA deletions in the major arc of mtDNA, which is single-stranded during replication and is characterized by a high number of deletions, we found a non-uniform distribution with a “hot spot” where one deletion breakpoint occurred within the region of 6-9 kb and another within 13-16 kb of the mtDNA. This distribution was not explained by the presence of direct repeats, suggesting that other factors, such as the spatial proximity of these two regions, can be the cause. In silico analyses revealed that the single-stranded major arc may be organized as a large-scale hairpin-like loop with a center close to 11 kb and contacting regions between 6-9 kb and 13-16 kb, which would explain the high deletion activity in this contact zone. The direct repeats located within the contact zone, such as the well-known common repeat with a first arm at 8470-8482 bp (base pair) and a second arm at 13,447-13,459 bp, are three times more likely to cause deletions compared to direct repeats located outside of the contact zone. A comparison of age- and disease-associated deletions demonstrated that the contact zone plays a crucial role in explaining the age-associated deletions, emphasizing its importance in the rate of healthy aging.

Conclusions: Overall, we provide topological insights into the mechanism of age-associated deletion formation in human mtDNA, which could be used to predict somatic deletion burden and maximum lifespan in different human haplogroups and mammalian species.

Keywords: Aging; Contact zone; Deletions; Direct repeats; Global secondary structure; Inverted repeats; Mitochondrial DNA; Single-stranded DNA; mtDNA replication.

Science.: co-auth.: group Gatflield

Science. 2023 May 5;380(6644):531-536. doi: 10.1126/science.adf9890. Epub 2023 May 4.

Molecular basis of translation termination at noncanonical stop codons in human mitochondria

Martin Saurer 1Marc Leibundgut 1Hima Priyanka Nadimpalli 2Alain Scaiola 1Tanja Schönhut 1Richard G Lee 3 4 5Stefan J Siira 3 4Oliver Rackham 3 4 5 6René Dreos 2Tea Lenarčič 1Eva Kummer 7David Gatfield 2Aleksandra Filipovska 3 4 5Nenad Ban 1Affiliations expand


The genetic code that specifies the identity of amino acids incorporated into proteins during protein synthesis is almost universally conserved. Mitochondrial genomes feature deviations from the standard genetic code, including the reassignment of two arginine codons to stop codons. The protein required for translation termination at these noncanonical stop codons to release the newly synthesized polypeptides is not currently known. In this study, we used gene editing and ribosomal profiling in combination with cryo-electron microscopy to establish that mitochondrial release factor 1 (mtRF1) detects noncanonical stop codons in human mitochondria by a previously unknown mechanism of codon recognition. We discovered that binding of mtRF1 to the decoding center of the ribosome stabilizes a highly unusual conformation in the messenger RNA in which the ribosomal RNA participates in specific recognition of the noncanonical stop codons.

Pint of science, May 22-24, 2023 from 7pm

Linh HO, Hann NG and Martino UGOLINI and other scientists, among which several DBC members, are organising 3-talk seminars in 3 different pubs for 3 evenings in a row!

For instance, on Thursday 22nd of May, you can attend 3 talks on “Faster, better, stronger: robotics and AI” at the Side walk café from 7pm – only the beverage are charged.

Further information on the 3-day event here: