Simon Andrews did his first degree in Microbiology at the University of Warwick. After a brief period working for Sandoz pharmaceuticals he went on to do a PhD in protein engineering a the University of Newcastle with Harry Gilbert. During his PhD his interests moved from bench work toward the emerging field of bioinformatics, and he decided to follow this direction in his future career.
After completing his PhD Simon worked with the BBSRC IT Services where he developed and then presented a series of bioinformatics training courses in protein structure analysis to the BBSRC institutes. At one of these courses at Babraham he met John Coadwell who establised the Babraham Bioinformatics group and was then employed as the second member of the bioinformatics team. Since joining Babraham Simon has seen the group grow from two people to nine as the field has become far more prominent in the biological research community. He took over the running of the group in 2010.
DNA methylation is a repressive epigenetic modification that is essential for development, exemplified by the embryonic and perinatal lethality observed in mice lacking de novo DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs). Here we characterise the role for DNMT3A, 3B and 3L in gene regulation and development of the mouse placenta. We find that each DNMT establishes unique aspects of the placental methylome through targeting to distinct chromatin features. Loss of Dnmt3b results in de-repression of germline genes in trophoblast lineages and impaired formation of the maternal-foetal interface in the placental labyrinth. Using Sox2-Cre to delete Dnmt3b in the embryo, leaving expression intact in placental cells, the placental phenotype was rescued and, consequently, the embryonic lethality, as Dnmt3b null embryos could now survive to birth. We conclude that de novo DNA methylation by DNMT3B during embryogenesis is principally required to regulate placental development and function, which in turn is critical for embryo survival.
EHMT1 (also known as GLP) is a multifunctional protein, best known for its role as an H3K9me1 and H3K9me2 methyltransferase through its reportedly obligatory dimerization with EHMT2 (also known as G9A). Here, we investigated the role of EHMT1 in the oocyte in comparison to EHMT2 using oocyte-specific conditional knockout mouse models ( cKO, cKO, cDKO), with ablation from the early phase of oocyte growth. Loss of EHMT1 in cKO and cDKO oocytes recapitulated meiotic defects observed in the cKO; however, there was a significant impairment in oocyte maturation and developmental competence in cKO and cDKO oocytes beyond that observed in the cKO. Consequently, loss of EHMT1 in oogenesis results, upon fertilization, in mid-gestation embryonic lethality. To identify H3K9 methylation and other meaningful biological changes in each mutant to explore the molecular functions of EHMT1 and EHMT2, we performed immunofluorescence imaging, multi-omics sequencing, and mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteome analyses in cKO oocytes. Although H3K9me1 was depleted only upon loss of EHMT1, H3K9me2 was decreased, and H3K9me2-enriched domains were eliminated equally upon loss of EHMT1 or EHMT2. Furthermore, there were more significant changes in the transcriptome, DNA methylome, and proteome in cDKO than cKO oocytes, with transcriptional derepression leading to increased protein abundance and local changes in genic DNA methylation in cDKO oocytes. Together, our findings suggest that EHMT1 contributes to local transcriptional repression in the oocyte, partially independent of EHMT2, and is critical for oogenesis and oocyte developmental competence.
Controlled ovarian stimulation is a necessary step in some assisted reproductive procedures allowing a higher collection of female gametes. However, consequences of this stimulation for the gamete or the offspring have been shown in several mammals. Most studies used comparisons between oocytes from different donors, which may contribute to different responses. In this work, we use the bovine model in which each animal serves as its own control. DNA methylation profiles were obtained by single-cell whole-genome bisulfite sequencing of oocytes from pre-ovulatory unstimulated follicles compared to oocytes from stimulated follicles. Results show that the global percentage of methylation was similar between groups, but the percentage of methylation was lower for non-stimulated oocytes in the imprinted genes , , and and higher in when compared to stimulated oocytes. Differences were also found in CGI of imprinted genes: higher methylation was found among non-stimulated oocytes in (), , , , and . In another region around , the methylation percentage was lower for non-stimulated oocytes when compared to stimulated oocytes. Data drawn from this study might help to understand the molecular reasons for the appearance of certain syndromes in assisted reproductive technologies-derived offspring.