Center for Neurogeneration
Dirk Sieger's Group

Photo of Karen Horsburgh

Dr. Dirk Sieger
Chancellors’s Fellow
Cancer Research UK Career Establishment Awardee
Centre for Neuroregeneration
Chancellor's Building
49 Little France Crescent

EH16 4SB

Telephone/Fax: +44 (0) 131 242 6161


Biographical Profile

    • 2012 – Principal Investigator, CNR
    • 2009 – 2012 Postdoc, EMBL Heidelberg (Dr. Francesca Peri)
    • 2006 – 2009 Postdoc, University of Cologne (Prof. Maria Leptin)
    • 2002 – 2006 PhD in Genetics, University of Cologne (Prof. Diethard Tautz)

Research Overview

The lab is mainly interested in the interactions of residential brain macrophages (microglia) and brain tumours. Microglia have the outstanding capability to sense injuries and infections in the brain immediately, to migrate to the site of lesion and to phagocytose detrimental material. Strikingly a comparable course of events is observed during tumour progression where microglia are attracted to the tumour and colonize the tumour. But instead of the expected anti-tumoural activity they achieve pro-tumoural functions and promote tumour growth. However due to the difficulty to monitor the early events of tumour colonization by microglia in vivo we are just beginning to understand these complex mechanisms.


The optically transparent zebrafish larvae allow us to study the interactions of microglia and brain tumours for the first time in vivo. In particular the opportunity to image cellular interactions at high temporal and spatial resolution in vivo combined with the possibility to interfere genetically and pharmacologically make the zebrafish an ideal model for our research.


Using this new brain tumour model we are approaching the following questions:


    • Which mechanisms are required to attract microglia to the tumour?
    • What are the signals that lead to the pro-tumoural activity of microglia?
    • Is it possible to circumvent the switch to pro-tumoural activity or even to induce anti-tumoural activity?

Group Members


Work in the laboratory is currently funded by a Cancer Research UK Career Establishment Award, a Chancellor’s Fellowship start up award, a Wellcome Trust-University of Edinburgh Institutional Support Fund award and a Royal Scoiety Research Grant.


Key Collaborators

    • Dr. Steven Pollard, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Edinburgh, UK
    • Dr. Marina Mione, KIT Karlsruhe, Germany
    • Dr. Tobias Pukrop, University Hospital Göttingen, Germany
    • Dr. Francesca Peri, EMBL Heidelberg, Germany
    • Dr. Yi Feng, MRC Centre for Inflammation Research, Edinburgh, UK
    • Dr. Catherina Becker, University of Edinburgh, UK
    • Prof. David Lyons, University of Edinburgh, UK

Selected Recent Publications

Ohnmacht J, Yang Y, Maurer GW, Barreiro-Iglesias A, Tsarouchas TM, Wehner D, Sieger D, Becker CG, Becker T (2016). Spinal Motor Neurons are Regenerated after Mechanical Lesion and Genetic Ablation in Larval Zebrafish, Development.


Chuang HN, van Rossum D, Sieger D, Siam L, Klemm F, Bleckmann A, Bayerlová M, Farhat K, Scheffel J, Schulz M, Dehghani F, Stadelmann C, Hanisch UK, Binder C, Pukrop T (2013). Carcinoma Cells Misuse the Host Tissue Damage Response to Invade the Brain. Glia, 61: 1331–1346.


Sieger D. and Peri F. (2012) Animal Models for Studying Microglia: The First, the Popular, and the New. Glia. 2012 Sep 17. doi: 10.1002/glia.22385


Sieger D.*, Moritz C.*, Ziegenhals T., Prykhozhij S. and Peri F. (2012) Long-range Ca2+ Waves Transmit Brain Damage Signals to Microglia. Developmental Cell. 2012 Jun 12;22(6):1138-48. (* authors contributed equally)


Böcke A.*, Sieger D.*, Kashkar H., Krönke M. (2012) FAN Mediates Navigational Capacity of Macrophages Responding to Wounds and Infection- Live Imaging Studies in Zebrafish Larvae. The Journal of Immunology. 2012 Aug 15;189(4):1559-66 (* authors contributed equally)


Key earlier publications 

Sieger D, Stein C, Neifer D, van der Sar AM, Leptin M. (2009). The Role of Gamma Interferon in Innate Immunity in the Zebrafish Embryo. Disease Models & Mechanisms. Nov-Dec;2(11-12):571-81


Aggad D, Stein C, Sieger D, Mazel M, Boudinot P, Herbomel P, Levraud JP, Lutfalla G, Leptin M. (2010). In Vivo Analysis of Ifn-γ1 and Ifn-γ2 Signaling in Zebrafish. The Journal of Immunology. Dec 1;185(11):6774-82


Earlier publications

Shankaran S.*, Sieger D.*, Schröter C., Czepe C., Pauly M.C., Laplante M.A., Becker T.S., Oates A.C., and Gajewski M. (2007). Completing the Set of h/E(spl) Cyclic Genes in Zebrafish: her12 and her15 Reveal Novel Modes of Expression and Contribute to the Segmentation Clock. Developmental Biology. 304(2), 615-32
(* authors contributed equally)


Gajewski M., Elmasri H., Girschick M., Sieger D. and Winkler C. (2006). Comparative Analysis of her Genes during Fish Somitogenesis Suggests a Mouse/Chick-Like Mode of Oscillation in Medaka. Development Genes and Evolution. 216(6), 315-32.


Sieger D., Ackermann B., Winkler C., Tautz D. and Gajewski M. (2006). her1 and her13.2 are Jointly Required for Somitic Border Specification Along the Entire Axis of the Fish Embryo Developmental Biology. 293(1), 242-51.


Sieger D., Tautz D. and Gajewski M. (2004). her11 is involved in the somitogenesis clock in zebrafish. Development Genes and Evolution. 214, 393-406.


Sieger D., Tautz D. and Gajewski M. (2003). The Role of Suppressor of Hairless in Notch Mediated Signalling During Zebrafish Somitogenesis. Mechanisms of Development. 120, 1083-94.


Gajewski M.*, Sieger D.*, Alt B., Leve C., Hans S., Wolff C., Rohr K. B. and Tautz D. (2003). Anterior and Posterior Waves of Cyclic her1 Gene Expression are Differentially Regulated in the Presomitic Mesoderm of Zebrafish. Development 130, 4269-78. (* authors contributed equally)

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