Functional consequences of errors in mitosis

Cell division is a fundamental and tightly regulated process that ensures the daughter cells will inherit the proper amount of genomic material. This process is not error-proof, however. Errors in mitosis are a hallmark of diseases, such as cancer. Understanding the origin and consequences of abnormal mitosis has been a central focus in tumour biology for decades.

We recently described a previously unknown consequence of mitotic errors and specifically of micronuclei – miniature nuclei that can be generated when chromosomes are mis-segregated in mitosis. We found that micronuclei can lead to inherited chromatin state defects and epigenetic instability, showcasing a novel, non-genetic role for these abnormal nuclear structures. In our lab, we are developing novel single-cell “omics” technologies and sophisticated cellular systems to better understand how errors in mitosis and abnormal chromosomes might affect chromatin state, genome organisation and eventually cellular responses. Our ultimate goal is to uncover previously unappreciated mechanisms of tumorigenesis and potentially targetable vulnerabilities that would allow the design of novel therapeutic approaches.

Research website 

Positions held

  • Since 2023: Group Leader, Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), Mainz
  • 2015 - 2023: Postdoctoral researcher, Harvard Medical School and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston


  • 2015: PhD in Molecular Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
  • 2008: MSc in Molecular Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
  • 2005: BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece

Selected publications by Stamatis Papathanasiou

Papathanasiou S#, Mynhier NA, Liu S, Brunette G, Stokasimov E, Jacob E, Li L, Comenho C, van Steensel B, Buenrostro JD, Zhang CZ# and Pellman D# (2023) Heritable transcriptional defects from aberrations of nuclear architectureNature, 619:184-192 (#indicates joint correspondence) Link

Leibowitz M*, Papathanasiou S*, Doerfler P, Blaine L, Sun L, Yao Y, Zhang CZ, Weiss M and Pellman D (2021) Chromothripsis as an on-target consequence of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editingNat Genet, 53:895–905 (*indicates equal contribution) Link

Papathanasiou S, Markoulaki S, Blaine L, Leibowitz M, Zhang CZ, Jaenisch R# and Pellman D# (2021) Whole chromosome loss and genomic instability in mouse embryos after CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing. Nat Commun, 12:5855 (#indicates joint correspondence) Link  

Papathanasiou S, Rickelt S, Soriano ME, Schips T, Maier HJ, Davos CH, Varela A, Kaklamanis L, Mann DL and Capetanaki Y (2015) Tumor necrosis factor-α confers cardioprotection through ectopic expression of keratins K8 and K18. Nat Med, 21:1076–1084 Link