Grants awarded

Reprogramming the epigenome: erasing memory and creating diversity

Grantholder:

Prof Wolf Reik

Babraham Institute

United Kingdom

Embryo development is a remarkable process. After fertilisation of the egg by the sperm, the embryo must grow from a single cell capable of becoming any part of the body to ordered tissues each with their own identity. This requires tight regulation and we have a limited understanding of how this operates.

We have developed new technologies that enable us to research this important time in embryogenesis. We aim to understand how the genes in our DNA are marked by small chemical additions. We will study how the early embryo resets these marks, providing a clean slate from which to build a new organism. We will investigate how different genes are subsequently marked as active or silent in different cells as their identity starts to form.

By understanding the mechanism of gene regulation during development, we can ensure healthy development of embryos. This could have an important impact on regenerative medicine.