The major research areas of the laboratory focus on mechanisms of epigenetic gene control and cellular signaling. Key contributions concern the role of the Polycomb and Trithorax proteins in epigenetic regulation, including their part in development and disease. The laboratory was the first to identify and describe at the molecular level the transgenerational inheritance of epigenetic traits in a complex organism. Additionally, the laboratory has continuously developed new technologies, the best known being chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) now used worldwide to detect and map the in vivo distribution of chromatin and DNA-associated proteins.
Chromatin controls the activity of genes in a eukaryotic cell and maintains gene expression patterns epigenetically stable and heritable during cell division. For a fundamental understanding of how cells become reprogrammed (e.g. in such crucial events as wound healing and regeneration), it is essential to map and understand the imprints that developmental programs, external cues, and homeostatic turnover leave in chromatin. Our group generates systems-level comprehensive descriptions of chromatin structures to provide tissue specific epigenetic typing of cells. We use models like Drosophila or mammalian cells to functionally validate and understand the significance of epigenetic gene control. Our aim is to be able to alter specifically the fate of cells towards the needs required for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
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