As human and other animal embryos develop, many different cell types must be generated at the right place and time. Because all the descendant cells of a unicellular embryo share the same genome, differentiation is achieved when cells use different portions of this common genome and transcribe different genes. Interactions between regulatory elements in the genome and a vast range of transcription factors modulate transcription; these combinatorial interactions are highly dynamic, tissue-specific and time-dependent.
My research group uses the latest genomics technologies to study development in human, mouse, chick and fish embryos. We generate and integrate data on chromatin states, occupancy of transcriptional regulators (ChIP-seq) and transcriptional profiles (RNA-seq), to decipher the transcriptional networks that guide apparently similar blocks of tissue into forming anatomical structures such as the face, the ear and the heart.