22 November 2018

In an article published in Cell Stem Cell, Guido van Mierlo from the lab of Hendrik Marks, theme Cancer development and immune defense, together with collaborators, show how the cells of the embryo are getting prepared to form the various cell types that are present in an organism, such as skin cells or heart cells.

Publication: link.

A couple of years ago the Marks lab showed that the genome undergoes a reset towards a blank slate which the enables the embryo to further develop towards an organism, in particular DNA methylation is widely being removed. We now show that this reset has an important effect on the proteins that packaging the genome (the histones). In particular, some modifications of the histones are actively removed from the histones, while other modifications are newly linked to the histones. For one of the histone modifications, this results in a complete rewiring of the genome.

Altogether, these modifications to the DNA and the histones result in compaction of the DNA during development, which is preparatory for further specialization of the cells.

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