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Dr Michael Fessing

PositionLecturer in Molecular and Cell Biology
LocationRoom H39d, Richmond Building
DepartmentSchool of Chemistry and Bioscience
Telephone+44 (0) 1274 234704

Research Interests (key words only)

Molecular and cellular mechanisms of the mammalian skin development, homeostasis and regeneration, chromatin dynamics and gene regulation in tissue development and homeostasis, higher-order chromatin structure and three dimensional (3D) genome organization, epigenetics.

PhD Supervision

BBSRC Case PhD student Mr Carl Kellett

Teaching and Supervisory Responsibilities

  • Programme Leader: MSc in Skin Sciences and Regenerative Medicine. The details for this new MSc programme can be found here
  • Module Leader ‘’Experimental Design’’ this module is undertaken by the students in several MSc programmes at the School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences 
  • Instructor at many modules taught at the School of Medical Sciences, School of Life Sciences
  • Person designate for the HTA regulated activities at the Centre for Skin Sciences

Study History

  • PgC in Higher Education Practice, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK, 2014
  • PhD in Molecular Biology, M.V. Lomonosov  Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, 1995
  • MSc in Biotechnology,   M.V. Lomonosov Moscow Institute of Fine Chemical Technology, Moscow, Russia, 1991

Professional Activities

  • Lecturer of Molecular and Cell Biology  at the Centre for Skin Sciences, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences
  • Member of the Biomedical, Natural and Physical Sciences Research Ethics Panel, University of Bradford
  • Person designated for the HTA regulated activities at the Centre for Skin Sciences

Research Areas

My major research interests are chromatin dynamics and gene regulation in skin morphogenesis, homeostasis and regeneration.  Specifically my research focuses on how 3D genome organization, higher order chromatin folding, ATP-dependent chromatin remodelling and covalent DNA modifications  are involved in the transcription regulation in epithelial progenitor cell (PC) homeostasis and differentiation.  The skin represents a very attractive model to study genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation in adult PCs in dynamic self-renewing tissue.

Recently we have shown the remarkable higher-order chromatin remodelling of Epidermal Differentiation Complex locus (EDC), containing many genes encoding proteins essential for epidermal keratinocyte differentiation and barrier formation, in epidermal PCs during murine skin morphogenesis. In particular, we demonstrated de-condensation and relocation of the EDC locus towards the nuclear interior in epidermal basal keratinocytes upon onset of epidermal stratification between 11.5 days of gestation (E 11.5) and E16.5, using 3D FISH analysis of spatially preserved nuclei in mouse embryonic skin.  Importantly, the numerous genes within EDC are moderately up-regulated in basal keratinocytes at E16.5 in comparison to E11.5. Some of the genes are further significantly up-regulated in suprabasal keratinocytes. 

The remodelling of the higher-order chromatin structure within EDC was essentially completed in basal keratinocytes at E16.5 at least at the resolution provided by the 3D FISH analysis.  This suggests that such remodelling is required for high levels of expression of some EDC genes in differentiating suprabasal keratinocytes.  The relocation of EDC towards the nuclear interior is a locus-specific and is not associated with the inter-nuclear relocation of the EDC containing chromosome territory 3 or constitutively highly expressed genes located within 1Mb neighbourhood of the locus (Mardaryev et al, Development, 2014) 

We have also demonstrated that p63 transcriptional master regulator of epidermal development is essential for the higher order chromatin remodelling within EDC (Fessing et al, J Cell Biology, 2011, Mardaryev et al, Development 2014).  Importantly, a set of genes encoding chromatin structural proteins and remodellers were down-regulated in p63 deficient mouse epidermis, including genome organizer Satb1 and ATP-dependent chromatin remodeller Brg1/Smarca4.  We showed that Satb1 and Brg1 are direct transcriptional targets  for p63 and EDC higher-order chromatin structure and gene expression profile is significantly altered in Satb1 or Brg1 deficient epidermis.  Importantly, Satb1 and Brg1 directly bind to the specific genomic regions within EDC. 

In spite of recent progress in stem cell biology, our knowledge of epigenetic mechanisms governing their homeostasis and differentiation in vivo remains very limited.  Moreover, the mechanisms controlling the coordinated gene regulation within loci of tissue-specific genes, including EDC, during epithelial PC differentiation in epidermis and hair follicle are mostly unexplored. 

The long-term goals of my research are:

1) To define fundamental principles of 3D genome organization and mechanisms controlling its establishment and remodelling in mammals using skin epithelium as a model system

2) To identify how ATP dependent chromatin remodellers control gene expression programmes in skin epithelial stem cells and their progeny during skin and hair follicle regeneration and ageing      

3) To identify how 5-methylcytosine oxidation in DNA and Tet proteins control gene expression programmes in skin epithelial stem cells and their progeny during skin development, homeostasis, regeneration and ageing.

Current Projects

  • Chromatin remodelling processes in human hair growth cycle and impact of chronological ageing on chromatin remodelling in hair regeneration
  • DNA hydroxymethylation, TET enzymes and regulation of stem cell activity during skin regeneration and wound healing
  • Higher-order chromatin remodelling and 3D genome organization in skin development and regeneration

Research Collaborations

  • Prof Vladimir Botchkarev (University of Bradford)
  • Prof Job Dekker (University of Massachusetts School of Medicine, Worcester, MA, USA)
  • Prof Wolf Reik (Babraham Institute, Cambridge, UK)


Member of the European Society of Dermatological Research


Publications can be accessed from Bradford Scholars; search Fessing

A.N. Mardaryev, B. Liu, V. Rapisarda, K. Poterlowicz, I. Malaschuk, J. Rudolf, A.A.Sharov, C.A. Jahoda, M.Y. Fessing, S.A. Benitah, G.L. Xu, V.A. Botchkarev Cbx4 maintains the epithelial lineage identity and cell proliferation in the developing stratified epithelium J of Cell Biology, 2016, 212, 77-89

A.N. Mardaryev, M.R.Gdula, J.L.Yarker, V.U. Emelianov, K.Poterlowicz, A.A.Sharov, T.Y.Sharova, J.A.Scarpa, B. Joffe, I. Solovei, P.Chambon, V.A.Botchkarev, M.Y.Fessing p63 and Brg1 control developmentally-regulated higher-order chromatin remodelling within the Epidermal Differentiation Complex locus in epidermal progenitor cells. Development, 2014, 141, 101-11

M.Y. Fessing Gene regulation at a distance: higher-order chromatin folding and the coordinated control of gene transcription at the epidermal differentiation complex locus. J of Investigative Dermatology, 2014, 134, 2307-2310

C.J. Lewis, A.N. Mardaryev, A.A. Sharov, M.Y. Fessing, V.A. Botchkarev.  The epigenetic regulation of wound healing.  Adv Wound Care 2014, 3, 468-475

M.R.Gdula, K.Poterlowicz,  A.N.Mardaryev,  A.A.Sharov,  Y.Peng,  M.Y.Fessing, V.A.Botchkarev. Remodelling of Three-Dimensional Organization of the Nucleus during Terminal Keratinocyte Differentiation in the Epidermis. J of Investigative  Dermatology, 2013, 133: 2191-2201

V.A. Botchkarev, M.Y.Fessing, N.V. Botchkareva, G. Westgate, D.J. Tobin First International Symposium "Epigenetic Control of Skin Development and Regeneration": how chromatin regulators orchestrate skin functions. J of Investigative  Dermatology, 2013, 133: 1918-1921

V.A. Botchkarev, M.R. Gdula,  A.N. Mardaryev, A.A. Sharov, M.Y. Fessing.  Epigenetic mechanisms of  regulation of gene expression in keratinocytes. J of Investigative  Dermatology, 2012, 132, 2505-2521

M.Y.Fessing, A.N.Mardaryev, M.R.Gdula, A.A.Sharov, T.Y.Sharova, K.B.Gordon,  A.D.Smorodchenko, K.Poterlowicz, Y.Kohwi, C.Missero, T.Kohwi-Shigematsu, V.A.Botchkarev.  P63 regulates Satb1 to control tissue-specific chromatin remodelling during development of the  epidermis. J of Cell Biology,  2011, 194,  825-839

A.N.Mardaryev, N. Meier, K. Poterlowicz, A.A. Sharov, T.Y. Sharova, M.I. Ahmed, V. Rapisarda,    C. Lewis, M.Y. Fessing, T.M.Runger, J. Bhawan, S. Werner, R. Paus, V.A. Botchkarev.     Lhx2 differentially regulated Sox9, Tcf4 and Lgr5 in hair follicle stem cells to promote epidermal regeneration after injury. Development, 2011, 138, 4843-4853

A.N. Mardaryev, M.I. Ahmed, N.V.Vlahov, M.Y.Fessing, J.H.Gil, A. A. Sharov, N.V.Botchkareva.  MicroRNA-31 controls hair cycle-associated changes in gene expression programs of the skin and hair follicle. FASEB J, 2010, 10: 3869-3881

M.Y. Fessing, R. Atoyan, B. Shander, A.M.Mardaryev, V.V. Botchkarev Jr, K. Poterlowicz,           Y.Peng,T. Efimova, V.A. Botchkarev. BMP signaling induces cell-type specific changes in gene expression programs in human keratinocytes and fibroblasts.  J Invest Dermatol, 2010, 130: 398-404

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