Reik Group

Reik Group
Reik Group
Wolf Reik
Visiting Scientist
Reik Group

Research Summary

Our lab is interested in epigenetic gene regulation in mammalian development and in ageing. Global epigenetic reprogramming occurs at fertilisation and fundamentally remodels the epigenomes of sperm and egg. We are working to understand the mechanisms of reprogramming and also how it may be linked with zygotic genome activation, the sudden transcriptional springing to life of the genome in the early embryo.

Soon after implantation of the embryo in the maternal uterus there is a major programme of cell fate decisions which establishes the three primary germ layers, the ectoderm (which gives rise to brain and skin), the mesoderm (giving rise to muscle and heart), and the endoderm (which gives rise to the gut amongst other tissues).

These three lineages are the foundations of all organs in the adult body and we are interested in the transcriptional and epigenetic events that underlie their emergence from the undifferentiated epiblast. Finally, we are studying how the epigenome degrades during ageing potentially in a programmed fashion, and whether there are approaches by which this degradation can be slowed down or reversed.

Latest Publications

Bergmann S, Penfold CA, Slatery E, Siriwardena D, Drummer C, Clark S, Strawbridge SE, Kishimoto K, Vickers A, Tewary M, Kohler TN, Hollfelder F, Reik W, Sasaki E, Behr R, Boroviak TE Epigenetics

Gastrulation controls the emergence of cellular diversity and axis patterning in the early embryo. In mammals, this transformation is orchestrated by dynamic signalling centres at the interface of embryonic and extraembryonic tissues. Elucidating the molecular framework of axis formation in vivo is fundamental for our understanding of human development and to advance stem-cell-based regenerative approaches. Here, we illuminate early gastrulation of marmoset embryos in utero by spatial transcriptomics and stem cell-based embryo models. Gaussian process regression-based 3D-transcriptomes delineate the emergence of the anterior visceral endoderm, which is hallmarked by conserved (HHEX, LEFTY2, LHX1) and primate-specific (POSTN, SDC4, FZD5) factors. WNT signalling spatially coordinates primitive streak formation in the embryonic disc and is counteracted by SFRP1/2 to sustain pluripotency in the anterior domain. Amnion specification occurs at the boundaries of the embryonic disc through ID1/2/3 in response to BMP-signalling, providing a developmental rationale for amnion differentiation of primate pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). Spatial identity mapping demonstrates that primed marmoset PSCs exhibit highest similarity to the anterior embryonic disc, while naïve PSCs resemble the preimplantation epiblast. Our 3D-transcriptome models reveal the molecular code of lineage specification in the primate embryo and provide an in vivo reference to decipher human development.

+view abstract Nature, PMID: 35709828 16 Jun 2022

Parry AJ, Reik W Epigenetics

No abstract available.

+view abstract Nature genetics, PMID: 35534560 09 May 2022

Kyriakopoulos C, Nordström K, Kramer PL, Gottfreund JY, Salhab A, Arand J, Müller F, von Meyenn F, Ficz G, Reik W, Wolf V, Walter J, Giehr P Epigenetics

A precise understanding of DNA methylation dynamics is of great importance for a variety of biological processes including cellular reprogramming and differentiation. To date, complex integration of multiple and distinct genome-wide datasets is required to realize this task. We present GwEEP (genome-wide epigenetic efficiency profiling) a versatile approach to infer dynamic efficiencies of DNA modifying enzymes. GwEEP relies on genome-wide hairpin datasets, which are translated by a hidden Markov model into quantitative enzyme efficiencies with reported confidence around the estimates. GwEEP predicts and maintenance methylation efficiencies of Dnmts and furthermore the hydroxylation efficiency of Tets. Its design also allows capturing further oxidation processes given available data. We show that GwEEP predicts accurately the epigenetic changes of ESCs following a Serum-to-2i shift and applied to Tet TKO cells confirms the hypothesized mutual interference between Dnmts and Tets.

+view abstract Cell reports methods, PMID: 35475220 28 Mar 2022

Group Members

Wolf Reik

Visiting Scientist

Abdulkadir Abakir

Visiting Scientist

Jonathan Boudeman

PhD Student

Deborah Drage

Visiting Scientist

Jannat Ijaz

Postdoc Research Scientist

Ioannis Kafetzopoulos

Postdoc Research Scientist

Yongmin Kwon

PhD Student

Annalisa Mupo

Visiting Scientist

Alice Santambrogio

Postdoc Research Scientist

Fatima Santos

Visiting Scientist