C. elegans research group

Group leader: Prof. Tibor Vellai


János Barna, Tímea Kovácsné Sigmond, Ádám Sturm

PhD students:

Ferenc Bodnár, Kincső Bördén, Olimpia Horváth, Blanka Huszár, Nassima Khelil, Dániell  Kovács, Himani Sharma

MSc students:

Márton Kovács, KlaudiaOravecz, Mohammad Umar

BSc students:

Brandl Zsófia, Boglárka Mucsi, Anna Végvári

Research projects:

Exploring new roles for HSF-1 beyond the heat stress response (János Barna)

Protein damage caused by various environmental stresses induces distinct cell protective mechanisms, such as the heat shock response. During heat shock response HSF1 (heat shock transcription factor 1) helps to refold or degrade damaged proteins via activation of chaperone gene expression. Most HSF-1 target genes identified so far encode for heat shock proteins (HSPs). However, during the last decade HSF-1 has been implicated in fundamental physiological and pathological processes that expand beyond heat shock response. It has been shown that HSF1 on its own or interacting with essential proteins such as TP53 and PARP1, can play roles in cell growth, development, aging, DNA repair and immunity as well as in carcinogenesis and tumor progression.

The aim of the project is the identification and characterization of novel HSF-1 interactor proteins using proximity labelling methods to uncover novel roles of HSF-1 in C. elegans. We also aim to perform bioinformatic analyses to find cofactors of HSF1 mediating novel roles of the heat shock transcription factor and build a database containing both, interactors and target genes of HSF1 (HSF1Base). Our results may provide new insight into the role of HSF-1 during development, aging and in age related pathologies.

Investigation of the function and regulation of autophagy in C. elegans model organism.

Macroautophagy is the only cellular degradation process that can remove aggregates and cellular organelles, thus regulates cell survival, regeneration, and development processes. The pathological function of the pathway plays a role in several diseases, such as neuronal degeneration processes. For better understanding of autophagy, we introduce novel fluorescent markers for monitoring its activity. These endogenous single-copy markers, generated by CRISPR/Cas9 technology, provide a more accurate detection of the autophagy activity. The regulation of autophagy processes has not been fully understood. Our aim is to investigate the effect of potential regulatory proteins, determined by bioinformatics methods, on C. elegans autophagy activity through RNAi-based gene silencing.


Kutnyanszky, Vera, Balazs Hargitai, Bernadette Hotzi, Monika Kosztelnik, Csaba Ortutay, Tibor Kovacs, Eszter Gyory, et al. 2020. “Sex-Specific Regulation of Neuronal Functions in Caenorhabditis Elegans: The Sex-Determining Protein TRA-1 Represses Goa-1/G Alpha((i/o)).” MOLECULAR GENETICS AND GENOMICS 295: 357–371. doi:10.1007/s00438-019-01625-0.

Kosztelnik, Monika, Anita Kurucz, Diana Papp, Emily Jones, Timea Sigmond, Janos Barna, Maria H Traka, et al. 2019. “Suppression of AMPK/aak-2 by NRF2/SKN-1 down-Regulates Autophagy during Prolonged Oxidative Stress.” FASEB JOURNAL 33 (2): 2372–2387. doi:10.1096/fj.201800565RR.

Kovács, Dániel, Tímea Sigmond, Bernadette Hotzi, Balázs Bohár, Dávid Fazekas, Veronika Deák, Tibor Vellai, and János Barna. 2019. “HSF1Base: A Comprehensive Database of HSF1 (Heat Shock Factor 1) Target Genes.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES 20 (22). doi:10.3390/ijms20225815.

Barna, János, Péter Csermely, and Tibor Vellai. 2018. “Roles of Heat Shock Factor 1 beyond the Heat Shock Response.” CELLULAR AND MOLECULAR LIFE SCIENCES 75 (16): 2897–2916. doi:10.1007/s00018-018-2836-6.

Hotzi, Bernadette, Mónika Kosztelnik, Balázs Hargitai, Krisztina Takács-Vellai, János Barna, Ka Bördén, András Málnási-Csizmadia, et al. 2018. “Sex-Specific Regulation of Aging in Caenorhabditis Elegans.” AGING CELL 17 (3). doi:10.1111/acel.12724.

Sturm, Ádám, Éva Saskői, Tibor Kovács, Nóra Weinhardt, and Tibor Vellai. 2018. “Highly Efficient RNAi and Cas9-Based Auto-Cloning Systems for C. Elegans Research.” NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH 46 (17). doi:10.1093/nar/gky516.

Sturm, Ádám, András Perczel, Zoltán Ivics, and Tibor Vellai. 2017. “The Piwi-piRNA Pathway: Road to Immortality.” AGING CELL 16 (5): 906–911. doi:10.1111/acel.12630.

Ádám, Sturm, Hotzi Bernadette, Saskői Évi, Kosztelnik Mónika, Gordos Bianka, Tarnóci Anna, Ivics Zoltán, and Vellai Tibor. 2015. “The Mechanism of Ageing : Primary Role of Transposable Elements in Genome Disintegration.” In Hungarian Molecular Life Sciences 2015, 81–82.

Hotzi, Bernadette, Mónika Kosztelnik, Balázs Hargitai, János Barna, Krisztina Takács-Vellai, András Málnási-Csizmadia, Csaba Ortutay, et al. 2015. “Az Élethossz Szex-Specifikus Szabályozása Caenorhabditis Elegans-Ban.”

Hotzi, Bernadette, Mónika Kosztelnik, Vera Kutnyánszky, Balázs Hargitai, János Barna, Julianna Lilienberg, Éva Saskői, et al. 2015. “Sex –specific Regulation of Development, Ageing and Behavior in Caenorhabditis Elegans.” In Hungarian Molecular Life Sciences 2015, 129–129.

Sturm, Adam, Zoltan Ivics, and Tibor Vellai. 2015. “The Mechanism of Ageing: Primary Role of Transposable Elements in Genome Disintegration.” CELLULAR AND MOLECULAR LIFE SCIENCES 72 (10): 1839–1847. doi:10.1007/s00018-015-1896-0.

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