Stem cells and epigenetic regulation

Epigenetic regulation of cell type determination

Stem/progenitor cell populations constitute the basic building units from which organs and whole organisms are created.

We identified the transcriptional regulator SALL4 as a key player that is required to maintain the pluripotency state of embryonic stem cells. SALL4 is highly expressed in the inner cell mass (ICM) of the blastocyst that gives rise to the embryo and the primitive endoderm.

We employ omics technologies to understand the regulation and function of this central player in stem cell biology. Using a biotin/streptavidin system we have unraveled the SALL4 protein complex and its protein interaction network in embryonic stem cells. In addition, we have identified the chromosomal localization pattern of these proteins by chromatin immunoprecipitation in combination with high-throughput parallel sequencing (ChIP-Seq).

Currently, we determine the epigenetic alterations that result from changes of these protein complex activities upon growth hormone factor signaling.

This work was part of  the Priority Program SPP1356 "Pluripotency and Cellular Reprogramming" of the German Research Foundation.