Different cells in our bodies form distinct tissues and organs to perform specific functions, even though each cell carries the same genetic material in its DNA. DNA does not exist alone in the cells but is closely associated with a class of proteins called histones. Together DNA and histones form the physiological form of our genome – chromatin. Histones carry specific protein modifications and their precise positioning on the DNA controls the activity of regulatory regions and expression of genes during cell differentiation, making epigenetic landscape one of the crucial factors in defining cell types and their developmental stages.
Our group studies how malfunctioning epigenetic regulation leads to the pathogenesis of both cardiovascular and neurodevelopmental disorders. In a systemic approach we are combining bulk and single-cell “omics” technologies and novel data integration methods to dissect gene regulatory networks and identify molecular pathways perturbed in human disease. As a model system we use human induced pluripotent stem cells and derived from them differentiated cells (neurons, vascular cells, cardiomyocytes) and 3D cell cultures.