Scientific Research Project Title

Novel role of proline hydroxylation in transcriptional regulation

Research Institution

Københavns Universitet

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Copenhagen

Research field

Molecular biology and Transcription

Research leader

Lea Haarup Gregersen


Project title

Novel role for proline hydroxylation in transcriptional regulation

What is your project about?

My research is focused on understanding how genetic information is decoded in our cells. The process is called transcription and is the first step in a process that produces proteins, which are necessary for the function and division of our cells. My project aims to understand how proteins involved in transcription are modified by proline hydroxylation. Modification of proteins by proline hydroxylation occurs constantly in our cells and is necessary, for instance, in the stabilisation of collagen, an integral structural component of skin cells. Proline hydroxylation of other proteins are known to target them for degradation or modify their function. However, we currently do not understand the importance of proline hydroxylation in transcription. The goal of this project is to discover how proline hydroxylation of proteins involved in transcription impacts how our genetic information is read.

How did you become interested in your particular field of research?

I have been fascinated by regulation of processes within our cells for many years. During my studies at the University of Copenhagen, I became interested in molecular biology and particularly in the area of research working on transcription and gene regulation. It is an extremely exciting research area working on a fundamental question: How is our genetic information decoded correctly? It is a field of research in constant development and new experimental techniques continues to push the boundary of our knowledge and understanding.

What are the scientific challenges and perspectives in your project?

The key enzyme I will investigate which catalyses proline hydroxylation has not previously been studied in the context of transcription. This means that we have to design our experiments in a way so they can answer very general questions in an unbiased manner. We can do that by using genome-wide sequencing techniques that can quantify transcription of our entire genome. On the other hand, this means that our project can contribute new knowledge that is important to understand how our genetic information is read. In the long term, this may have an impact on our understanding of diseases caused by transcriptional deregulation

What is your estimate of the impact, which your project may have to society in the long term?

My project aims to address the complex mechanisms responsible for regulating how our genetic information is read. This is basic research in a very fundamental process in our cells with potential impact on our understanding of transcription. The bigger perspective is that new knowledge obtained as part of this project could help answer how mis-regulation of transcription can contribute to disease development.

Which impact do you expect the Sapere Aude programme will have on your career as a researcher?

Firstly, the Sapere Aude programme allows me to start an ambitious research project and recruit talented researchers to work together with me to shed light new and unexplored area of transcriptional research. At the same time, the Sapere Aude programme contributes to the education of new research talent and gives them the opportunity to participate in international collaborations.

Background and personal life

For the past 10 years I have lived in London and Berlin, but am returning to Denmark to start my own research group early 2021. Outside work I spent my time with my husband who is also a researcher and our 18-month-old son. Together we enjoy cooking and spending time outdoors.

City of your current residence

London, United Kingdom

High school

Espergærde Gymnasium og HF