Folkert van Werven

Cell Fate and Gene Regulation Laboratory

Cell fate decisions are triggered by environmental queues and intrinsic cellular properties. The aim of the Cell Fate and Gene regulation Laboratory is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which the cell integrates multiple signals to achieve a binary decision - whether or not to differentiate. This understanding is critical to understand cell specialisation and development of multicellularity.

The budding yeast S. cerevisiae is an ideal model system to study this problem. In response to a combination of extracellular and intracellular cues budding yeast undergoes a highly conserved cell differentiation program called gametogenesis. Since entry into gametogenesis is controlled by only two master regulators in this model organism, there is unique opportunity to study the molecular and quantitative aspects of this cell fate.

The first aim is to investigate how transcription and cell fate are controlled by long noncoding RNAs (lncRNA). The second aim is to obtain a molecular understanding on how multiple signals are integrated at the promoter of the master regulator of gametogenesis. These aims form the beginning of a systematic investigation of how gene expression is controlled during cell fate decisions.

Please visit our lab site at for more information.


Figure: Distribution of IME1 and the lncRNA IRT1 transcripts among single cells. (Click to view larger image)

Selected publications

Berchowitz LE, Gajadhar AS, van Werven FJ, De Rosa AA, Samoylova ML, Brar GA, Xu Y, Xiao C, Futcher B, Weissman JS, White FM, Amon A. A developmentally regulated translational control pathway establishes the meiotic chromosome segregation pattern. Genes & Development. 2013;27:2147-63

van Werven FJ, Neuert G, Hendrick N, Lardenois A, Buratowski S, van Oudenaarden A, Primig M, Amon A. Transcription of two long noncoding RNAs mediates mating-type control of gametogenesis in budding yeast. Cell. 2012;150(6):1170-81

van Werven FJ, Amon A. Regulation of entry into gametogenesis. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011;366(1584):3521-31

Folkert van Werven
+44 (0)20 379 62064

  • Qualifications and history
  • 2009 PhD, University Medical Center Utrecht/University of Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 2009 - 2013 Postdoctoral Associate/Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA 
  • 2013 Established lab at the London Research Institute, Cancer Research UK
  • 2015 Group Leader, the Francis Crick Institute, London, UK