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Group Leader

M. Cristina Cardoso graduated in biology at the University of Lisbon, Portugal (1986). After finishing her doctoral thesis on phage molecular genetics (1990), she went on to her post-doctoral training in the group of Dr. B. Nadal-Ginard at the Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA) where she worked on inducing retro-differentiation in terminally differentiated cells. During this time, she started to explore the interplay between the mammalian cell nucleus landscape and (epi)genome metabolism. In 1995, she became a group leader at the Franz Volhard Clinic (Charité-Berlin, Germany) and from 1997 to 2008 at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (Berlin). Since 2008, she has established her group at the Technische Universität Darmstadt.

Link to publications page



Katrin Schallert is responsible to manage the secretariat of the work group. She is in charge for accounting and secretary matters. Accounting includes in particular the facts and figures of the research projects and in administrative matters. In the secretary, she is responsible among other things, to purchase lab and office material, doing the bills and taking care about personnel matters.



Dianca Imblan

Diana Imblan graduated in environment protection at the School of Applied Sciences in Bingen. She is working as a technical assistant in the Cardoso lab and takes care of several databases (Library of papers, Inventory lists, Peptides) and is supporting Manuela in protein purification.


Anne Lehmkuhl takes the best care of our cell cultures and is therefore absolutely not replaceable. She is all ears for special wishes and keeps the lab running with all the time freshly prepared solutions and sterilized lab materials.

Ludwig, A. K.#, Zhang, P.#, Hastert, F. D., Meyer, S., Rausch, C., Herce, H. D., Muller, U., Lehmkuhl, A., Hellmann, I., Trummer, C., Storm, C., Leonhardt, H. and Cardoso, M. C. (2017). Binding of MBD proteins to DNA blocks Tet1 function thereby modulating transcriptional noise. Nucleic Acids Res 45: 2438-2457.

Zhang, P.#, Ludwig, A. K.#, Hastert, F. D., Rausch, C., Lehmkuhl, A., Hellmann, I., Smets, M., Leonhardt, H. and Cardoso, M. C. (2017). L1 retrotransposition is activated by Ten-eleven-translocation protein 1 and repressed by methyl-CpG binding proteins. Nucleus 8: 548-562.

Becker, A., Allmann, L., Hofstatter, M., Casa, V., Weber, P., Lehmkuhl, A., Herce, H. D. and Cardoso, M. C. (2013). Direct homo- and hetero-interactions of MeCP2 and MBD2. PLoS One 8: e53730.

Bertulat, B., De Bonis, M. L., Della Ragione, F., Lehmkuhl, A., Milden, M., Storm, C., Jost, K. L., Scala, S., Hendrich, B., D'esposito, M. and Cardoso, M. C. (2012). MeCP2 dependent heterochromatin reorganization during neural differentiation of a novel Mecp2-deficient embryonic stem cell reporter line. PLoS One 7: e47848.



Manuela Milden studied Biotechnology at the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt, Germany. Her diploma thesis was finished in 2008 in the department of molecular biology. Now she takes care of the biochemistry lab, the antibodies and our Äkta system.

Bertulat, B., De Bonis, M. L., Della Ragione, F., Lehmkuhl, A., Milden, M., Storm, C., Jost, K. L., Scala, S., Hendrich, B., D'esposito, M. and Cardoso, M. C. (2012). MeCP2 dependent heterochromatin reorganization during neural differentiation of a novel Mecp2-deficient embryonic stem cell reporter line. PLoS One 7: e47848.

Jost, K. L., Rottach, A., Milden, M., Bertulat, B., Becker, A., Wolf, P., Sandoval, J., Petazzi, P., Huertas, D., Esteller, M., Kremmer, E., Leonhardt, H. and Cardoso, M. C. (2011). Generation and Characterization of Rat and Mouse Monoclonal Antibodies Specific for MeCP2 and Their Use in X-Inactivation Studies. PLoS One 6: e26499.






María Arroyo López (Postdoc) graduated in Biological Sciences at University of Jaen (Spain) with a two-year Master in Biotechnology and Biomedicine (2008-2013) and the Ph.D at the same institution (2014-2018). All her research work was focused in MCPH1 gene, functional analysis in chromosome condensation and cell cycle control and it was carried out in the Human Genetics Area. During her doctoral studies, she also worked at the University of Minnesota at Dr. Duncan Clarke lab (Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development), investigating the functional interplay between TopoisomeraseII and MCPH1 and its link with the Decatenation Checkpoint. In July 2019 she joined Prof. Cristina Cardoso´s group to continue its scientific calling. In her spare time, Maria enjoys sport climbing and sharing time with family and friends.

Arroyo, M., Trimborn, M., Sánchez, A., Hirano, T., Neitzel, H., & Marchal, J. A. (2015). Chromosome structure deficiencies in MCPH1 syndrome. Chromosoma 124: 491–501.

Arroyo, M., Kuriyama, R., Trimborn, M., Keifenheim, D., Cañuelo, A., Sánchez, A., Marchal, J. A. (2017). MCPH1, mutated in primary microcephaly, is required for efficient chromosome alignment during mitosis. Scientific Reports 7.

Arroyo, M., Kuriyama, R., Guerrero, I., Keifenheim, D., Cañuelo, A., Calahorra, J., Marchal, J. A. (2019). MCPH1 is essential for cellular adaptation to the G 2 -phase decatenation checkpoint. The FASEB Journal.


Ksenia Kolobynina

Ksenia Kolobynina joined Cardoso group as a PhD student in July 2017 and is currently focusing on novel regulators of chromatin response to DNA damage. She studied biology at the Kazan Federal University, Russia, to obtain her bachelor degree with a focus on genetics in 2015. Meanwhile she got research experience in the lab of Prof. Dr. Barbara Schmidt in University of Regensburg, Germany, being a part of the project aiming to test HIV mimetic peptides. She did her master thesis at the Institute of Fundamental Medicine and Biology, Kazan, investigating potential role of human CHP3 protein in stem cell differentiation process under supervision of Prof. Albert Rizvanov.

Kolobynina, K. G., Solovyeva, V. V., Levay, K., Rizvanov, A. A. and Slepak, V. Z. (2016). Emerging roles of the single EF-hand Ca2+ sensor tescalcin in the regulation of gene expression, cell growth and differentiation. J Cell Sci 129: 3533-3540.


Stefania Mamberti

Stefania Mamberti started her Bachelor in Biology at the University of Pavia, Italy, in 2009 and spent six months as an erasmus student at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. During her Master Degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics, obtained in Pavia in 2015, she worked on the genetics of Bacillus subtilis and its production of poly-gamma-glutamate.
From the same university she then received a scholarship to identify new larvicidal activities against Aedes albopictus. She started her PhD in the Cardoso group in 2017 to investigate the chromatin structure that underlies processes such as DNA replication and DNA repair in mammalian nuclei.

Mamberti, S., Prati, P., Cremaschi, P., Seppi, C., Morelli, C. F., Galizzi, A., Fabbi, M. and Calvio, C. (2015). γ-PGA
hydrolases of phage origin in Bacillus subtilis and other microbial genomes. PLoS ONE 10.



Maruthi Kumar Pabba started his bachelor from Indian Institute of Technology Raipur, India, in 2013. He obtained his master's degree in biology from Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, India, in 2019. He joined Cardoso group for his master thesis as a DAAD Exchange student in September 2018 where his research focus was to study the human Ubiquitin E3 Ligases and their role in DNA damage and repair. He joined Cardoso lab as a Ph.D. to investigate the regulation of mammalian genome architecture and mobility. His spare time activities involve traveling and painting.


Beata Plitta-Michalak (Postdoc) obtained her master’s degree in molecular biology at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland (2006). After she started her PhD studies at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Polish academy of Sciences, Poznan, Poland where in January 2013 she obtained a PhD degree cum laude in biochemistry. Her work aimed in searching for new inhibitors of DNA methyltransferases as potential chemotherapeutics in cancer treatment. In February 2013 she joined the Institute of Dendrology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kornik, Poland for the post-doc position, where interdisciplinary research concerning plant physiology and seed science is of major interest. She focused on searching for new molecular-based seed quality metrics critical for conservation. In July 2018 she started her post-doc position in Cardoso group to study the impact of solar radiation on DNA.

Kurek, K., Plitta-Michalak, B., Ratajczak, E. (2019). Reactive oxygen species as potential drivers of the seed aging process. Plants 8: 174.

Szaflarski, W., Vesper, O., Teraoka, Y., Plitta, B., Wilson, D.N., Nierhaus K.H. (2008). New features of the ribosome and ribosomal inhibitors: non-enzymatic recycling, misreading and back-translocation. J Mol Biol 380: 193-205.

Plitta, B., Adamska, E., Giel-Pietraszuk, M., Fedoruk-Wyszomirska, A., Nasket-Barciszewska, M., Markiewicz, W.T., Barciszewski J. (2012). New cytosine derivatives as inhibitors of DNA methylation. Eur J Med Chem 55: 243-254.

Michalak, M., Barciszewska, M.Z., Barciszewski, J., Plitta, B.P., Chmielarz, P. (2013). Global changes in DNA methylation in seeds and seedlings of Pyrus communis after seed desiccation and storage. Plos ONE 8: e70693.

Michalak, M., Plitta, B.P., Chmielarz, P. (2013). Desiccation sensitivity and successful cryopreservation of oil seeds of European hazelnut (Corylus avellana). Ann of Appl Biol 163: 351-358.

Plitta, B.P., Michalak, M., Naskret-Barciszewska, M.Z., Barciszewski, J., Chmielarz, P. (2014). DNA methylation of Quercus robur L. plumules following cryo-pretreatment and cryopreservation. Plant Cell Tiss Org 117: 31-37.

Suszka, J., Plitta, B.P., Michalak, M., Bujarska-Borkowska, B., Tylkowski, T., Chmielarz, P. (2014). Optimal seed water content and storage temperature for preservation of Populus nigra L. germplasm. Ann For Sci 71: 543-549.

Plitta, B.P., Michalak, M., Bujarska-Borkowska, B., Barciszewska, M.Z., Barciszewski, J., Chmielarz, P. (2014). Effect of desiccation on the dynamics of genom-wide DNA methylation in orthodox seeds of Acer platanoides L. Plant Physiol Bioch 85: 71-77.

Michalak, M., Plitta, B.P., Tylkowski, T., Chmielarz, P., Suszka, J. (2015). Desiccation tolerance and cryopreservation of seeds of black poplar (Populus nigra L.), a disappearing tree species in Europe. Eur J For Res 134: 53-60.

Litkowiec, M., Plitta-Michalak, B.P., Lewandowski, A., Iszkulo, G. (2015). Homogenous genetic structure in populations of Taxus baccata with varied proportions of male and female individuals. Silva Fenn 49: article id 1236.

Michalak, M., Plitta-Michalak, B.P., Bujarska-Borkowska, B., Naskret-Barciszewska, M.Z., Barciszewski, J., Chmielarz, P. (2015). Global 5-methylcytosine alterations in DNA during aging of Quercus robur L. seeds. Ann Bot-London 116: 369-376.

Michalak, M., Plitta-Michalak, B.P., Chmielarz, P. (2015). A new insight in desiccation tolerance and cryopreservation of mazzard cherry (Prunus avium L.) seeds. Open Life Sci 10: 354-364.

Michalak, M., Plitta-Michalak, B.P., Chmielarz, P. (2015) Desiccation tolerance and cryopreservation of wild apple (Malus sylvestris) seeds. Seed Sci Technol 43: 1-12.

Plitta-Michalak, B.P., Naskret-Barciszewska, M.Z., Kotlarski, S., Tomaszewski, D., Tylkowski, T., Barciszewski, J., Chmielarz, P., Michalak, M. (2017). Changes in genomic 5-methylcytosine level mirror the response of orthodox (Acer platanoides L.) and recalcitrant (Acer pseudoplatanus L.) seeds to severe desiccation. Tree Physiol 38: 617-629.


Sunil K. Pradhan received his BSc-MSc dual degree in Biological Sciences from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata, India. His master thesis was focused on intraspecific competition of sibling colonies of Bacillus cereus. He worked at University of Zurich to study the role of HATs and HDACs in regulation of metabolism in brown adipose tissues. He started his PhD in Cardoso lab to work on epigenetic regulatory mechanism in DNA replication and repair. His hobbies include playing flute, trekking and watching movies.

plays flute with the BiophoniX


Paulina Prorok (Postdoc) obtained her Bachelor and Master degrees in Biotechnology from the University of Warsaw, Poland in 2007 and 2009, respectively. In 2009 she started her PhD studies shared between the group of Prof. Barbara Tudek at the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics in Warsaw, Poland and the Institute Gustave Roussy, Paris, France. Her research project involved studies on the DNA repair of etheno-DNA adducts formed by exogenous and endogenous sources  After her PhD defence in 2013 she joined the laboratory of Dr Marcel Mechali at the Institute of Human Genetics in Montpellier, France where she worked on a regulation of DNA replication origins firing using genome-wide approaches. In 2019 she joined the Prof. Cristina Cardoso‘s group at the TU Darmstadt to pursue her studies on different aspects of DNA replication including its regulation under stress condition.

Bazlekowa-Karaban, M.#, Prorok, P.#, Baconnais, S., Taipakova, S., Akishev, Z., Zembrzuska, D., Popov, A.V., Endutkin, A.V., Groisman, R., Ishchenko, A.A., Matkarimov, B.T., Bissenbaev, A., Le Cam, E., Zharkov, D.O., Tudek, B., Saparbaev, M. (2019). Mechanism of stimulation of DNA binding of the transcription factors by human apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1, APE1. DNA Repair (Amst) 82: 102698.

# First Authors

Prorok, P., Artufel, M., Aze, A., Coulombe, P., Peiffer, I., Lacroix, L., Guedin, A., Mergny, J.L., Damaschke, J., Schepers, A., Ballester, B. and Mechali, M. (2019). Involvement of G-quadruplex regions in mammalian replication origin activity. Nat Commun. 10: 3274.

Ganier, O.#, Prorok, P.#, Akerman, I. and Mechali, M. (2019). Metazoan DNA replication origins. Current Opinion in Cell Biology 58: 134-141.

# First Authors

Brustel, J., Kirstein, N., Izard, F., Grimaud, C., Prorok, P., Cayrou, C., Schotta, G., Abdelsamie, A.F., Dejardin, J., Mechali, M., Baldacci, G., Sardet, C., Cadoret, J.C., Schepers, A. and Julien, E. (2017). Histone H4K20 tri-methylation at late-firing origins ensures timely heterochromatin replication. EMBO J 36: 2726-2741.

Zdzalik, D.#, Domanska, A.#, Prorok, P.#, Kosicki, K., van den Born, E., Falnes, P., Rizzo, C.J.,  Guengerich, F.P. and Tudek, B. (2015). Differential repair of etheno-DNA adducts by bacterial and human AlkB proteins. DNA Repair 30: 1-10.

# First Authors

Joldybayeva, B.#, Prorok, P.#, Grin, I.R., Zharkov, D.O., Ishchenko, A.A., Tudek, B., Bissenbaev, A.K. and Saparbaev, M. (2014). Cloning and characterization of a Wheat homologue of apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease Ape1L. PLoS One 9: e92963.

# First Authors

Prorok, P., Alili, D., Saint-Pierre, Ch., Gasparutto, D., Zharkov, D., Ishchenko, A.A., Tudek, B. and Saparbaev, M. (2013). Uracil in duplex DNA is a substrate for the human nucleotide incision repair pathway. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110: e3695-703.

Prorok, P., Saint-Pierre, Ch., Gasparutto, D., Fedorova, O.S., Ishchenko, A.A., Tudek, B. and Saparbaev, M.  (2012). Highly mutagenic exocyclic DNA adducts are substrates for the human nucleotide incision repair pathway. PLoS One 7: e51776.

Janowska, B., Kurpios-Piec, D., Prorok, P., Szparecki, G., Komisarski, M., Kowalczyk, P., Janion, C. and Tudek, B. (2012). Role of damage-specific DNA polymerases in M13 phage mutagenesis induced by a major lipid peroxidation product trans-4-hydroxy-2-nonenal. Mutat Res. 729: 41-51.

Janowska, B., Komisarski, M., Prorok, P., Sokolowska, B., Kusmierek, J.T., Janion, C. and Tudek, B. (2009). Nucleotide excision repair and recombination are engaged in repair of trans-4-hydroxy-2-nonenal adducts to DNA bases in Escherichia coli. Int.J.Biol.Sci. 5: 611-620.


Alexander Rapp (Postdoc) graduated in biochemistry at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, with a diploma thesis on assessing DNA damage after laser micro beams using the Comet-FISH assay.  During this time he got experience on different multi photon laser beams and their use for micromanipulation and damage induction.  After that he did his PhD in Molecular Biology at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMB) in Jena in the Group of K.O. Greulich (until 2004).  In 2005 he went to the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, UK as a Marie Curie Fellow in the lab of P. Cook.  During this time he studied the effects of radiation induced DNA damage in dependency on chromatin structure.  In 2008 he joined the Cardoso group at the TU Darmstadt for his habilitation in the field of DNA repair and chromatin.

Link to publications page


Cathia Rausch studied biology at the LMU in Munich and graduated in 2015 in the group of Prof. Dr. Heinrich Leonhardt. In her Master Thesis she investigated the interactome of TET1 and generated as well as characterized several cell lines expressing TET1 (Ten-Eleven-Translocation protein 1) deletion proteins. She joined the Cardoso group in 2016 for her PhD, where she will also focus on TETs and their enzymatic products (especially 5hmC) and investigate their role in DNA replication and chromatin regulation. Furthermore, she will be working on MeCP2 and investigate how post-translational modifications affect localization and protein-protein/protein-DNA interactions.

Weber, P.#., Rausch, C..#, Scholl, A. and Cardoso, M. C. (2019). Repli-FISH (Fluorescence in Situ Hybridization): Application of 3D-(Immuno)-FISH for the study of DNA replication timing of genetic repeat elements. OBM Genetics 3: 31.

# First Authors

Natale, F., Scholl, A., Rapp, A., Yu, W., Rausch, C., and Cardoso, M. C. (2018). DNA replication and repair kinetics of Alu, LINE-1 and satellite III genomic repetitive elements. Epigenetics Chromatin 11: 61.

Ludwig, A. K., Zhang, P., Hastert, F. D., Meyer, S., Rausch, C., Herce, H. D., Muller, U., Lehmkuhl, A., Hellmann, I., Trummer, C., Storm, C., Leonhardt, H. and Cardoso, M. C. (2017). Binding of MBD proteins to DNA blocks Tet1 function thereby modulating transcriptional noise. Nucleic Acids Res 45: 2438-2457.

Zhang, P., Ludwig, A. K., Hastert, F. D., Rausch, C., Lehmkuhl, A., Hellmann, I., Smets, M., Leonhardt, H. and Cardoso, M. C. (2017). L1 retrotransposition is activated by Ten-eleven-translocation protein 1 and repressed by methyl-CpG binding proteins. Nucleus 8: 548-562.

Zhang, P., Rausch, C., Hastert, F. D., Boneva, B., Filatova, A., Patil, S. J., Nuber, U. A., Gao, Y., Zhao, X. and Cardoso, M. C. (2017). Methyl-CpG binding domain protein 1 regulates localization and activity of Tet1 in a CXXC3 domain-dependent manner. Nucleic Acids Res 45: 7118-7136.


Hector Romero (Postdoc) graduated in biology in 2012 at the Complutense University of Madrid. During his master degree in biochemistry, obtained in Madrid in 2013, he studied the effect of HGF on the first steps of malignancy of oval cells treated with TGF-β. He did his PhD shared between the group of Juan Alonso at the National Centre of Biotechnology of Spain and Prof. Peter Graumann at Phillips-Universität Marburg, where he defend his thesis in 2018 based on the genetic and single-molecule characterization of two factors involved in DNA replication and repair in Bacillus subtilis. In 2019, he joined Prof. Cristina Cardoso´s group to study single-molecule dynamics in proteins involved in chromatin reorganization. In his spare time, Hector writes fantasy books and enjoys the nature together with his family.

Romero, H., Torres, R., Hernandez-Tamayo, R., Carrasco, B., Ayora, S., Graumann, P. L., Alonso, J.C. (2019) Bacillus subtilis RarA acts at the interplay between replication and repair-by-recombination. DNA repair 78: 27-36. 

Torres, R., Romero, H., Rodriguez-Cerrato, V. and Alonso, J.C. (2017) Interplay between Bacillus subtilis RecD2 and the RecG and RuvAB helicase in recombinational repair. DNA repair 55: 44-46.

Romero, H., Rösch, T., Hernandez-Tamayo, R., Lucena, D., Ayora, S., Alonso, J.C. and Graumann, P. (2019) Single molecule tracking reveals function of RarA at replication forks but also independently from replication during DNA repair in Bacillus subtilis. Sci Reports 9: 1997.


Annika Schmidt studied biochemistry at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and graduated in 2016. During her master thesis at the Medizinisches Proteom-Center Bochum she worked on the establishment and optimization of mass spectrometry methods to identify body fluids in forensic samples. She joined the Cardoso group in 2017 for her PhD to work on MECP2, focusing on post-translational modifications and its influences on MECP2 function.


Hui Zhang graduated in Biology at Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) in China as a Master student in 2017. His Master Thesis involved the functions of Marveld1 (MARVEL domain containing protein 1) during mouse placenta development and underlying molecular mechanisms. In 2017 he joined the Cardoso Lab for his PhD. Here he will focus on the Mecp2 (methyl-CpG binding protein 2) functions during neural differentiation.

Chen, Y., Zhang, H., Han, F., Yue, L., Qiao, C., Zhang, Y., Dou, P., Liu, W. and Li, Y. (2018). The depletion of MARVELD2 leads to murine placenta accreta via integrin β4-dependent trophoblast cell invasion. J. Cell. Physiol 233: 2257-2269.



Cardoso Lab  •  Technische Universität Darmstadt  •  Germany


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