Epigenetic reprogramming encompasses changes in nuclear architecture and epigenetic modifications, eventually leading to a shift in gene expression profile. At the molecular level, such a process is connected with the erasure of epigenetic marks including DNA methylation and histone modifications. Our laboratory uses in vivo models to elucidate molecular mechanisms underlying naturally occurring reprogramming events. The knowledge gained allows us to design in vitro experimental systems and to use biochemical approaches to investigate further molecular details.
We study the reprogramming events both in the developing mouse germ line and in the mouse zygote. The former involves both genome-wide DNA demethylation and chromatin remodelling, whereas reprogramming the zygote involves genome-wide DNA demethylation affecting only the paternal genome a few hours after fertilisation.
As epigenetic reprogramming plays a pivotal role in the dedifferentiation and the reversal of cell fate decisions, investigation of molecular pathways underlying such processes provides direct mechanistic links to regeneration and cancer.
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