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Henrik Bringmann - Cellular Circuits and Systems

The molecular mechanisms underlying the vital functions of sleep in promoting health are not understood. This is surprising since sleep is essential for development and regeneration and sleep disorders are highly prevalent in industrialized societies, posing a massive unsolved medical and economic challenge. The goal of our lab is to solve key sleep functions by analyzing genetic animal models of sleeplessness. The key model systems that we are studying are the nematode C. elegans as well as mice. Our goal is to obtain a molecular and mechanistic understanding of sleep functions in cellular health and well beeing. The results from animal models will thus provide a roadmap leading to the understanding and treatment of human sleep disorders and for developing regenerative therapies.

Curriculum Vitae


  • 2014                   Habilitation, University of Göttingen
  • 2007                   Dr. rer. nat., Max Planck Institute for Cell Biology and Genetics
                               and Technical University of Dresden
  • 2003                   Diploma in Biology, University of Heidelberg

Academic Career

  • Since 2020        Professor at the Biotechnology Center, Technical University of Dresden
  • 2018 - 2020       Professor of Animal Physiology, University of Marburg
  • 2009 - 2018       Max Planck Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical
                              Chemistry G
  • 2008                  Postdoctoral Researcher, Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular
                              Biology Cambridge, United Kingdom

Honors / Awards

  • 2015                   ERC Starting Grant SLEEPCONTROL
  • 2008                   Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society
  • 2004                   Predoctoral Fellowship, Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds
  • 2001                   Fellowship, Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes


We gratefully acknowledge funding by the following organizations.


1.         Hu, Y., Korovaichuk, A., Astiz, M., Schroeder, H., Islam, R., Barrenetxea, J., Fischer, A., Oster, H., and Bringmann, H. (2020). Functional Divergence of Mammalian TFAP2a and TFAP2b Transcription Factors for Bidirectional Sleep Control. Genetics.

2.         Busack, I., Jordan, F., Sapir, P., and Bringmann, H. (2020). The OptoGenBox - a device for long-term optogenetics in C. elegans. J Neurogenet, 1-9.

3.         Maluck, E., Busack, I., Besseling, J., Masurat, F., Turek, M., Busch, K.E., and Bringmann, H. (2020). A wake-active locomotion circuit depolarizes a sleep-active neuron to switch on sleep. PLoS biology 18, e3000361.

4.         Konietzka, J., Fritz, M., Spiri, S., McWhirter, R., Leha, A., Palumbos, S., Costa, W.S., Oranth, A., Gottschalk, A., Miller, D.M., 3rd, et al. (2020). Epidermal Growth Factor Signaling Promotes Sleep through a Combined Series and Parallel Neural Circuit. Curr Biol 30, 1-16 e13.

5.         Steuer Costa, W., Van der Auwera, P., Glock, C., Liewald, J.F., Bach, M., Schuler, C., Wabnig, S., Oranth, A., Masurat, F., Bringmann, H., et al. (2019). A GABAergic and peptidergic sleep neuron as a locomotion stop neuron with compartmentalized Ca2+ dynamics. Nat Commun 10, 4095.

6.         Bringmann, H. (2019). Genetic sleep deprivation: using sleep mutants to study sleep functions. EMBO Rep 20.

7.         Wu, Y., Masurat, F., Preis, J., and Bringmann, H. (2018). Sleep Counteracts Aging Phenotypes to Survive Starvation-Induced Developmental Arrest in C. elegans. Curr Biol 28, 3610-3624 e3618.

8.         Spies, J., and Bringmann, H. (2018). Automated detection and manipulation of sleep in C. elegans reveals depolarization of a sleep-active neuron during mechanical stimulation-induced sleep deprivation. Sci Rep 8, 9732.

9.         Bringmann, H. (2018). Sleep-Active Neurons: Conserved Motors of Sleep. Genetics 208, 1279-1289.

10.       Schwarz, J., and Bringmann, H. (2017). Analysis of the NK2 homeobox gene ceh-24 reveals sublateral motor neuron control of left-right turning during sleep. eLife 6.

11.       Kucherenko, M.M., Ilangovan, V., Herzig, B., Shcherbata, H.R., and Bringmann, H. (2016). TfAP-2 is required for night sleep in Drosophila. BMC neuroscience 17, 72.

12.       Besseling, J., and Bringmann, H. (2016). Engineered non-Mendelian inheritance of entire parental genomes in C. elegans. Nature biotechnology 34, 982-986.

13.       Turek, M., Besseling, J., Spies, J.P., Konig, S., and Bringmann, H. (2016). Sleep-active neuron specification and sleep induction require FLP-11 neuropeptides to systemically induce sleep. eLife 5.

14.       Urmersbach, B., Besseling, J., Spies, J.P., and Bringmann, H. (2016). Automated analysis of sleep control via a single neuron active at sleep onset in C. elegans. Genesis 54, 212-219.

15.       Turek, M., Besseling, J., and Bringmann, H. (2015). Agarose Microchambers for Long-term Calcium Imaging of Caenorhabditis elegans. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE, e52742.

16.       Turek, M., and Bringmann, H. (2014). Gene expression changes of Caenorhabditis elegans larvae during molting and sleep-like lethargus. PLoS One 9, e113269.

17.       Turek, M., Lewandrowski, I., and Bringmann, H. (2013). An AP2 transcription factor is required for a sleep-active neuron to induce sleep-like quiescence in C. elegans. Curr Biol 23, 2215-2223.

18.       Schwarz, J., and Bringmann, H. (2013). Reduced sleep-like quiescence in both hyperactive and hypoactive mutants of the Galphaq Gene egl-30 during lethargus in Caenorhabditis elegans. PLoS One 8, e75853.

19.       Bringmann, H. (2012). G protein regulator 1 (GPR-1) localizes to cortical sites of artificial mechanical indentation in Caenorhabditis elegans zygotes. Cytoskeleton (Hoboken) 69, 819-825.

20.       Schwarz, J., Spies, J.P., and Bringmann, H. (2012). Reduced muscle contraction and a relaxed posture during sleep-like Lethargus. Worm 1, 12-14.

21.       Schwarz, J., Lewandrowski, I., and Bringmann, H. (2011). Reduced activity of a sensory neuron during a sleep-like state in Caenorhabditis elegans. Curr Biol 21, R983-984.

22.       Bringmann, H. (2011). Agarose hydrogel microcompartments for imaging sleep- and wake-like behavior and nervous system development in Caenorhabditis elegans larvae. J Neurosci Methods 201, 78-88.

23.       Redemann, S., Schloissnig, S., Ernst, S., Pozniakowsky, A., Ayloo, S., Hyman, A.A., and Bringmann, H. (2011). Codon adaptation-based control of protein expression in C. elegans. Nat Methods 8, 250-252.

24.       Schenk, C., Bringmann, H., Hyman, A.A., and Cowan, C.R. (2010). Cortical domain correction repositions the polarity boundary to match the cytokinesis furrow in C. elegans embryos. Development 137, 1743-1753.

25.       Bringmann, H. (2008). Mechanical and genetic separation of aster- and midzone-positioned cytokinesis. Biochemical Society transactions 36, 381-383.

26.       Bringmann, H., Cowan, C.R., Kong, J., and Hyman, A.A. (2007). LET-99, GOA-1/GPA-16, and GPR-1/2 are required for aster-positioned cytokinesis. Curr Biol 17, 185-191.

27.       Zumdieck, A., Kruse, K., Bringmann, H., Hyman, A.A., and Julicher, F. (2007). Stress generation and filament turnover during actin ring constriction. PLoS One 2, e696.

28.       Bringmann, H. (2005). Cytokinesis and the spindle midzone. Cell Cycle 4, 1709-1712.

29.       Bringmann, H., and Hyman, A.A. (2005). A cytokinesis furrow is positioned by two consecutive signals. Nature 436, 731-734.

30.       Bringmann, H., Skiniotis, G., Spilker, A., Kandels-Lewis, S., Vernos, I., and Surrey, T. (2004). A kinesin-like motor inhibits microtubule dynamic instability. Science 303, 1519-1522.

Group Members

You can find a list of current group members and contact information members here.

Open Positions

We are always looking for highly motivated and creative students to solve the molecular and cellular biology of sleep. International students and researchers are particularly encouraged to get in touch.

Students interested in a PhD project in our lab should apply either to the Dresden International Graduate School for Biomedicine and Bioengineering (DIGS-BB) or directly to the lab.

We are also accepting applications from outstanding postdoctoral researchers who wish to join our lab. Funding is available through various organizations (DFG, Humboldt foundation, HFSP, EMBO, DAAD, etc.).

Students interested in a master’s project are encouraged to apply.

In case you are interested in working with us please contact Henrik Bringmann.

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