Epigenetic inheritance – The inheritance of information beyond the DNA sequence – is increasingly appreciated to play key roles in a broad range of biological processes. Our laboratory investigates the role of epigenetic information in a range of biological paradigms, focusing primarily on 1) the structure of the yeast genome, and 2) the role of epigenetic information in mammalian sperm in transmitting information about ancestral experiences to future generations. Our lab brings together expertise in genomics, reproductive biology, microscopy, genetics, and biochemistry to explore these problems.
There are two primary subgroups within the lab. The first uses genome-wide tools to characterize the structure of the budding yeast genome, and its role in gene regulation. Much of this effort involves developing novel tools for mapping nucleosome positioning, modifications, dynamics, and chromosome folding. Our eventual goal is to understand the mechanistic basis for genome folding, and how chromatin folding affects transcriptional regulation.
The other area of interest in the lab is whether and how ancestral environmental conditions influence phenotypes in future generations. We have developed several paternal effect models in mice, finding for example that offspring of mice consuming low protein diet exhibit altered metabolic traits. Ongoing studies focus on the biogenesis of epigenetic marks in sperm, and the effects of sperm epigenetic modifications on early development.