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.
No abstract available.
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.
In primates, the amnion emerges through cavitation of the epiblast during implantation, whereas in other species it does so later at gastrulation by the folding of the ectoderm. How the mechanisms of amniogenesis diversified during evolution remains unknown. Unexpectedly, single-cell analysis of primate embryos uncovered two transcriptionally and temporally distinct amniogenesis waves. To study this, we employed the naive-to-primed transition of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to model peri-implantation epiblast development. Partially primed hPSCs transiently gained the ability to differentiate into cavitating epithelium that transcriptionally and morphologically matched the early amnion, whereas fully primed hPSCs produced cells resembling the late amnion instead, thus recapitulating the two independent differentiation waves. The early wave follows a trophectoderm-like pathway and encompasses cavitation, whereas the late wave resembles an ectoderm-like route during gastrulation. The discovery of two independent waves explains how amniogenesis through cavitation could emerge during evolution via duplication of the pre-existing trophectoderm program.