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Biochemistry of Epigenetic Inheritance
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Research unit director
Biochemistry of Epigenetic Inheritance
The ability of cells to acquire and maintain stable differentiated states is central to development. Nicole J. Francis’s lab is interested in how the gene expression patterns that define cellular states can be inherited across cell generations and how this might involve heritable changes to chromatin. The idea that chromatin structure carries heritable (epigenetic) information is attractive because of its conceptual simplicity—epigenetic and genetic information are inherited together. However, this idea raises questions about how chromatin features can be inherited through cell cycles since both DNA replication and mitosis disrupt chromatin structure. The goal of the team’s work is to discover the biochemical mechanisms that enable chromatin states to be propagated through DNA replication and mitosis. They address these questions using the Polycomb Group (PcG) proteins of Drosophila melanogaster.
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