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Chromatin-mediated regulation of gene expression in mouse ES cells

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Stem cells have the intrinsic ability to activate a number of alternative gene expression programs in response to inductive signals while maintaining stable expression of the stem cell-specific program to ensure self-renewal. The role of transcription factors in maintaining this balance is well recognised and mounting evidence points to an important role of epigenetic regulation, consistent with frequent mutation of epigenetic regulators in developmental disorders and cancer. Compared to somatic cell types, embryonic stem (ES) cells have an ‘open’ chromatin structure with a primed configuration at genes encoding key regulators of all three germ layers. This flexible chromatin state reflects the wide developmental potential of ES cells and is recreated when differentiated cell types are reprogrammed to pluripotency. Upon differentiation of ES cells, epigenetic marks are subject to wide-spread redistribution resulting in genome compartmentalisation. We study chromatin-mediated control of gene expression in ES cells and during differentiation in order to understand the regulation of mammalian development.

This talk is part of the Seminars on Quantitative Biology @ CRUK Cambridge Institute series.

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