Dr. rer. nat. Zeynab Najafova
Group Leader

Dr. Zeynab Najafova, Ph.D.

Zeynab Najafova was born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1986. After obtaining her diploma in 2009 from the Medical Biology Faculty of Azerbaijan Medical University, she moved to Germany where she completed her Masters of Science in Molecular Medicine from the Georg-August-University Göttingen in 2012. During her doctoral work in Hamburg and Göttingen, Zeynab elucidated epigenetic regulatory mechanisms controlling osteoblastic differentiation. She completed her Ph.D. with highest honors (summa cum laude) in 2016. In 2018 Zeynab was awarded a Dorothea-Schlözer fellowship from the University of Göttingen to promote her independent research dedicated to characterization of enhancer RNAs as diagnostic and prognostic markers for molecular stratification of patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. In 2020 Zeynab joined the Research Informatics Group at Evotec International GmbH to work on clinically relevant topics involving large patient cohorts. In May 2022 she assumed her current position as a group leader at the Robert Bosch Center for Tumor Diseases.

Relevant own publications

  • Wang X, Kutschat AP, Aggrey-Fynn J, Hamdan FH, Graham RP, Wixom AQ, Souto Y, Ladigan-Badura S, Yonkus JA, Abdelrahman AM, Alva-Ruiz R, Gaedcke J, Ströbel P, Kosinsky RL, Wegwitz F, Hermann P, Truty MJ, Siveke JT, Hahn SA, Hessmann E, Johnsen SA, Najafova Z. Identification of a ΔNp63-Dependent Basal-Like A Subtype-Specific Transcribed Enhancer Program (B-STEP) in Aggressive Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma. Mol Cancer Res. 2023 Sep 1;21(9):881-891. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-22-0916. PMID: 37279184.

  • Hamdan FH, Abdelrahman AM, Kutschat AP, Wang X, Ekstrom TL, Jalan-Sakrikar N, Wegner Wippel C, Taheri N, Tamon L, Kopp W, Aggrey-Fynn J, Bhagwate AV, Alva- Ruiz R, Lynch I, Yonkus J, Kosinsky RL, Gaedcke J, Hahn SA, Siveke JT, Graham R, Najafova Z, Hessmann E, Truty MJ, Johnsen SA. Interactive enhancer hubs (iHUBs) mediate transcriptional reprogramming and adaptive resistance in pancreatic cancer. Gut. 2023 Jun;72(6):1174-1185. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2022-328154. Epub 2023 Mar 8. PMID: 36889906.

  • Kutschat AP, Hamdan FH, Wang X, Wixom AQ, Najafova Z, Gibhardt CS, Kopp W, Gaedcke J, Ströbel P, Ellenrieder V, Bogeski I, Hessmann E, Johnsen SA. STIM1 Mediates Calcium-Dependent Epigenetic Reprogramming in Pancreatic Cancer. Cancer Res. 2021 Jun 1;81(11):2943-2955. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-20-2874. Epub 2021 Jan 12. PMID: 33436389.

  • Najafova Z, Liu P, Wegwitz F, Ahmad M, Tamon L, Kosinsky RL, Xie W, Johnsen SA, Tuckermann J. RNF40 exerts stage-dependent functions in differentiating osteoblasts and is essential for bone cell crosstalk. Cell Death Differ. 2021 Feb;28(2):700-714. doi: 10.1038/s41418-020-00614-w. Epub 2020 Sep 8. PMID: 32901120.

  • Wroblewski M, Scheller-Wendorff M, Udonta F, Bauer R, Schlichting J, Zhao L, Ben Batalla I, Gensch V, Päsler S, Wu L, Wanior M, Taipaleenmäki H, Bolamperti S, Najafova Z, Pantel K, Bokemeyer C, Qi J, Hesse E, Knapp S, Johnsen S, Loges S. BET-inhibition by JQ1 promotes proliferation and self-renewal capacity of hematopoietic stem cells. Haematologica. 2018 Jun;103(6):939-948. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2017.181354. Epub 2018 Mar 22. PMID: 29567778.

  • Baumgart SJ, Najafova Z, Hossan T, Xie W, Nagarajan S, Kari V, Ditzel N, Kassem M, Johnsen SA. CHD1 regulates cell fate determination by activation of differentiation-induced genes. Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Jul 27;45(13):7722-7735. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx377. PMID: 28475736.

  • Mishra VK, Wegwitz F, Kosinsky RL, Sen M, Baumgartner R, Wulff T, Siveke JT, Schildhaus HU, Najafova Z, Kari V, Kohlhof H, Hessmann E, Johnsen SA. Histone deacetylase class-I inhibition promotes epithelial gene expression in pancreatic cancer cells in a BRD4- and MYC-dependent manner. Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Jun 20;45(11):6334-6349. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx212. PMID: 28369619.

  • Xie W, Nagarajan S, Baumgart SJ, Kosinsky RL, Najafova Z, Kari V, Hennion M, Indenbirken D, Bonn S, Grundhoff A, Wegwitz F, Mansouri A, Johnsen SA. RNF40 regulates gene expression in an epigenetic context-dependent manner. Genome Biol. 2017 Feb 16;18(1):32. doi: 10.1186/s13059-017-1159-5. PMID: 28209164.

  • Najafova Z, Tirado-Magallanes R, Subramaniam M, Hossan T, Schmidt G, Nagarajan S, Baumgart SJ, Mishra VK, Bedi U, Hesse E, Knapp S, Hawse JR, Johnsen SA. BRD4 localization to lineage-specific enhancers is associated with a distinct transcription factor repertoire. Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Jan 9;45(1):127-141. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkw826. Epub 2016 Sep 19. PMID: 27651452.

  • Wienken M, Dickmanns A, Nemajerova A, Kramer D, Najafova Z, Weiss M, Karpiuk O, Kassem M, Zhang Y, Lozano G, Johnsen SA, Moll UM, Zhang X, Dobbelstein M. MDM2 Associates with Polycomb Repressor Complex 2 and Enhances Stemness- Promoting Chromatin Modifications Independent of p53. Mol Cell. 2016 Jan 7;61(1):68-83. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2015.12.008. Epub 2015 Dec 31. PMID: 26748827.

  • Karpiuk O, Najafova Z, Kramer F, Hennion M, Galonska C, König A, Snaidero N, Vogel T, Shchebet A, Begus-Nahrmann Y, Kassem M, Simons M, Shcherbata H, Beissbarth T, Johnsen SA. The histone H2B monoubiquitination regulatory pathway is required for differentiation of multipotent stem cells. Mol Cell. 2012 Jun 8;46(5):705-13. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2012.05.022. PMID: 22681891.

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