Rein Aasland

Image of Rein Aasland
Norwegian version of this page
Phone +47 22844563
Mobile phone 92425456
Room 1220
Visiting address Blindernveien 31 0371 Oslo
Postal address Postboks 1066 Blindern 0316 OSLO

Research interest

I'm interested in how genes are regulated; -  how cells keep track on which of our 20,000+ genes should be "off" or "on" in the body's different cells and tissues. While hundreds of different transcription factors contribute to this, packaging of the genes in chromosomal chromatin also plays an important role in their regulation. DNA is wrapped around a core of eight histone proteins to form nucleosomes, akin perls on a string. Chains of nucleosomes fold at a higher level to form chromatin, and ultimately chromosomes, as we can see them in the microscope.

The nucleosomal histones can be biochemically marked in a fashion reflecting gene expression status: "off" or "on". If histone marks are copied and maintained through several cell generations, this can contribute to giving cells a kind of "memory";  - the cells "remember" which genes should be on or off. This is called epigenetic gene regulation.

To find out how histones contribute to gene regulation, we hunt for proteins that recognise different histone modifications. Currently, we are hunting for proteins that recognise a histone modification (Histone H3, lysine 27-acetylation; H3K27ac), which is enriched on chromatin of active enhancers, - long-distance gene regulatory elements. To achieve this, we are using a combination of biochemical, bioinformatics and molecular biological approaches. Scientifically, I'm affiliated with  IBV's Section for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.



1984: Cand. scient., biochemistry, University of Bergen

1991: Dr. scient, molekylærbiologi, University of Bergen


1985-1989: PhD student (Norwegian Cancer Society), Laboratory of Biotechnology, University of Bergen

1989-1990: Researcher, Marine Genetics AS

1990-1991: Associate professor, Laboratory of Biotechnology, University of Bergen

1992-1995: Post.doc., Gene Expression Programme, EMBL, Heidelberg

1995-2001: Associate professor, Laboratory of Biotechnology - from 1997: Department of Molecular Biology, University of Bergen

2002-2016: Professor, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Bergen

2012-2016: Head of Department, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Bergen

2017-2021: Head of Department, Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo

2021-present: Professor, Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo

Other Experience and Professional Memberships (selected items):

2005-2010: Vice Dean for education, Science Faculty, University of Bergen

2008-2011: Board member, Norwegian Research Council's FUGE-program

2012-2015: Board member, Norwegian Research Council's BIOTEK2021-program

2011-2020: Norwegian delegate to Board of Trustees for Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), Vice President from 2018-2020.

siden 2014: Norwegian delegate to Board for ELIXIR (EU/ESFRI for bioinformatics), Chair from 2017-2018.



Selected publications (see CRIStin or ResearchGate for complete listing)

Dobrovolska O, Brilkov M, Madeleine N, Ødegård-Fougner Ø, Strømland Ø, Martin SR, De Marco V, Christodoulou E, Teigen K, Isaksson J, Underhaug J, Reuter N, Aalen RB, Aasland R, Halskau Ø. The Arabidopsis (ASHH2) CW domain binds monomethylated K4 of the histone H3 tail through conformational selection.  (2020). FEBS J. 287:4458-4480. doi:10.1111/febs.15256.

Kirill Jefimov, Nicolas Alcaraz, Susan L. Kloet, Signe Värv, Siri Aastedatter Sakya, Christian Dalager Vaagenso,  Michiel Vermeulen, Rein Aasland,  and Robin AnderssonThe GBAF chromatin remodeling complex binds H3K27ac and mediates enhancer transcription (2018). Deposited with bioXriv (doi:, - submitted for peer review.

Dobrovolska O, Bril'kov M, Ødegård-Fougner Ø, Aasland R, Halskau Ø.  (2018) 1H, 13C, and 15N resonance assignments of CW domain of the N-methyltransferase ASHH2 free and bound to the mono-, di- and tri-methylated histone H3 tail peptides. Biomol NMR Assign. 12:215-220.

Taxt, Arne Michael; Diaz, Yuleima; Aasland, Rein; Clements, John D.; Nataro, James Paul; Sommerfelt, Halvor; Puntervoll, Pål. (2016) Towards rational design of a toxoid vaccine against the heatstable toxin of Escherichia coli. Infection and Immunity 84:1239-1249

Rack JGM, Lutter T, Bjerga GEK, Guder C, Ehrhardt C, Varv S, Ziegler M, and Aasland R. (2014) The PHD finger of p300 influences its ability to acetylate histone and non-histone targets. Journal of Molecular Biology. 426:3960-3972

Rack JGM, Van Linden MR, Lutter T, Aasland R, and Ziegler M. 2014. Constitutive nuclear localization of an alternatively spliced sirtuin-2 isoform. Journal of Molecular Biology. 426:1677-1691.

Hoppmann V, Thorstensen T, Kristiansen PE, Veiseth SV, Rahman MA, Finne K, Aalen RB, and Aasland R. (2011) The CW domain, a new histone recognition module in chromatin proteins. EMBO J. 30: 1939-1952..

Xiao B, Sanders MJ, Underwood E, Heath R, Mayer FV, Carmena D, Jing C, Walker PA, Eccleston JF, Haire LF, Saiu P, Howell SA, Aasland R, Martin SR, Carling D, Gamblin SJ. (2011) Structure of mammalian AMPK and its regulation by ADP. Nature 472:230-233.

Denoeud F, Henriet S, Mungpakdee S, Aury JM, Da Silva C, Brinkmann H, Mikhaleva J, Olsen LC, Jubin C, Cañestro C, Bouquet JM, Danks G, Poulain J, Campsteijn C, Adamski M, Cross I, Yadetie F, Muffato M, Louis A, Butcher S, Tsagkogeorga G, Konrad A, Singh S, Jensen MF, Cong EH, Eikeseth-Otteraa H, Noel B, Anthouard V, Porcel BM, Kachouri-Lafond R, Nishino A, Ugolini M, Chourrout P, Nishida H, Aasland R, Huzurbazar S, Westhof E, Delsuc F, Lehrach H, Reinhardt R, Weissenbach J, Roy SW, Artiguenave F, Postlethwait JH, Manak JR, Thompson EM, Jaillon O, Du Pasquier L, Boudinot P, Liberles DA, Volff JN, Philippe H, Lenhard B, Roest Crollius H, Wincker P, and Chourrout D. (2010) Plasticity of animal genome architecture unmasked by rapid evolution of a pelagic tunicate. Science. 330:1381-5.

Justin N, De Marco V, Aasland R, and Gamblin SJ. (2010) Reading, writing and editing methylated lysines on histone tails: new insights from recent structural studies. Curr Opin Struct Biol. 20:730-8.

Taxt A, Aasland R, Sommerfelt H, Nataro J, and Puntervoll P. (2010) Heat-stable enterotoxin of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli as a vaccine target. Infect Immun. 78:1824-31.

Gould CM, Diella F, Via A, Puntervoll P, Gemünd C, Chabanis-Davidson S, Michael S, Sayadi A, Bryne JC, Chica C, Seiler M, Davey NE, Haslam N, Weatheritt RJ, Budd A, Hughes T, Pas J, Rychlewski L, Travé G, Aasland R, Helmer-Citterich M, Linding R, and Gibson TJ. ELM: the status of the 2010 eukaryotic linear motif resource. Nucleic Acids Res. 2010 Jan;38(Database issue):D167-80.

Buchanan L, Durand-Dubief M, Roguev A, Sakalar C, Wilhelm B, Strålfors A, Shevchenko A, Aasland R, Shevchenko A, Ekwall K, and Francis Stewart A. (2009) The Schizosaccharomyces pombe JmjC-protein, Msc1, prevents H2A.Z localization in centromeric and subtelomeric chromatin domains. PLoS Genet. 5:e1000726

Thorstensen T, Grini PE, Mercy IS, Alm V, Erdal S, Aasland R, and Aalen RB. (2008) The Arabidopsis SET-domain protein ASHR3 is involved in stamen development and interacts with the bHLH transcription factor ABORTED MICROSPORES (AMS). Plant Mol Biol. 66:47-59

Glaser S, Schaft J, Lubitz S, Vintersten K, van der Hoeven F, Tufteland KR, Aasland R., Anastassiadis, K, Ang, SL., and Stewart, AF. (2006) Multiple epigenetic maintenance factors implicated by the loss of Mll2 in mouse development. Development.133:1423-1432.

Slagsvold T, Aasland R, Hirano S, Bache KG, Raiborg C, Trambaiolo D, Wakatsuki S, and Stenmark H. (2005) Eap45 in mammalian ESCRT-II binds ubiquitin via a phosphoinositide-interacting GLUE domain. J Biol Chem. 2005 280:19600-6.

Ragvin A, Valvatne H, Erdal S, Årskog V, Tufteland KR, Breen K, Øyan AM, Eberharter A, Gibson TJ, Becker PB, and Aasland R. (2004) Nucleosome binding by the bromodomain and PHD finger of the transcriptional cofactor p300. J Mol Biol. 337:773-88.

Korenjak M, Taylor-Harding B, Binne UK, Satterlee JS, Stevaux O, Aasland R, White-Cooper H, Dyson N, and Brehm A. (2004) Native E2F/RBF complexes contain Myb-interacting proteins and repress transcription of developmentally controlled E2F target genes. Cell. 119:181-93

Puntervoll P, Linding R, Gemund C, Chabanis-Davidson S, Mattingsdal M, Cameron S, Martin DM, Ausiello G, Brannetti B, Costantini A, Ferre F, Maselli V, Via A, Cesareni G, Diella F, Superti-Furga G, Wyrwicz L, Ramu C, McGuigan C, Gudavalli R, Letunic I, Bork P, Rychlewski L, Kuster B, Helmer-Citterich M, Hunter WN, Aasland R, and Gibson TJ. (2003) ELM server: A new resource for investigating short functional sites in modular eukaryotic proteins. Nucleic Acids Res. 31:3625-3630.

Roguev A, Schaft D, Shevchenko A, Aasland R, Shevchenko A, and Stewart AF. (2003) High conservation of the Set1/Rad6 axis of histone 3 lysine 4 methylation in budding and fission yeasts. J Biol Chem. 278:8487-8493.

Conklin D, Jonassen I, Aasland R, and Taylor WR. (2002) Association of nucleotide patterns with gene function classes: application to human 3' untranslated sequences. Bioinformatics. 18:182-189.

Pijnappel, W.W., Schaft D., Roguev, A., Schevchenko, A., Tekotte, H., Wilm, M., Rigaut, G., Seraphin B., Aasland, R., and Stewart, A.F. (2001) The S. cerevisiae SET3 complex includes two histone deacetylases, Hos2 and Hst1, and is a meiotic-specific repressor of the sporulation gene program. Genes Dev. 15:2991-3004

Roguev, A., Schaft, D., Schevchenko, A., Pijnappel, W.W., Wilm, M., Aasland, R., and Stewart, A.F. (2001) The Saccharomyces cerevisiae Set1 complex includes and Ash2 homologue and methylates histone 3 lysine 4. EMBO J. 20:137-148

Gaullier JM, Simonsen A, D'Arrigo A, Bremnes B, Aasland R., Stenmark H (1998) FYVE fingers bind PtdIns(3)P. Nature 394:432-3.

Gibson, T.J., Ramu, C. Christine Gemund, C., and Aasland, R. (1998). The APECED polyglandular autoimmune syndrome protein, AIRE-1, contains the SAND domain and is probably a transcription factor. Trends Biochem. Sci. 23:242-244

Aasland, R., Stewart, A. F., and Gibson, T. J. (1996). The SANT domain:A putative DNA binding domain in the SWI-SNF and ADA complexes, the transcriptional co-repressor N-CoR and TFIIIB. Trends Biochem. Sci. 21, 87-88.

Aasland, R., and Stewart, A. F. (1995). The chromo shadow domain, a second chromo domain in heterochromatin-binding protein 1, HP1. Nucl. Acids. Res. 23:3168-3173.

Aasland, R., Gibson, T. J., and Stewart, A. F. (1995). The PHD-finger: implications for chromatin-mediated transcriptional regulation. Trends Biochem. Sci. 20:56-59.

Published Sep. 6, 2017 3:20 PM - Last modified Apr. 2, 2021 2:05 PM