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Epigenetic control of cell identity


We wish to understand the chromatin-based mechanisms which control the identity and fate of mammalian cells. Our particular interest is in enzymes which act on chromatin to regulate genome function in time and space during cellular differentiation to ensure normal growth and development.

Genetic mutations of chromatin remodelers have been implicated in cancer initiation or progression and frequently lead to impairment of embryonic development and pluripotency. One focus of our work is to determine how epigenetic events mediated by ATP dependent chromatin remodeling support and reinforce stem cell identity and direct differentiation of stem cells e.g. embryonic stem cells of the mouse. We also study epigenetic mechanisms in human skin. Mutations in the skin specific isoform of the SMARCAD1 remodeling enzyme cause Adermatoglyphia, Huriez Syndrome and Basan Syndrome. These heritable diseases are associated with the lack of fingerprints and an increased cancer risk and we are investigating the molecular basis thereof.

We are also investigating the mechanisms that implement transcriptional repression and maintain it through multiple rounds of cell division, since failure to do so can lead to aberrant gene expression programs and genome instability. Our model systems include retrotransposons, pericentric heterochromatin and the inactive X chromosome of females.

Master, Bachelor, Rotation positions available:
People interested in our research please contact us!


Epigenesys - EC-funded research initiative on epigenetics advancing towards systems biology

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