Since 1999 I have been involved in the characterisation of epigenetic reprogramming in mammalian embryos as part of the Epigenetic Reprogramming Team in Wolf Reik's Group. I have been particularly dedicated to the investigation of chromatin remodelling in early preimplantation embryos and following somatic nuclear transfer as a means of understanding the events that lead to lineage commitment and cell differentiation in mammals. We have strived to gather details of the epigenotype at different developmental stages, its dynamics, and possible mechanistic links between the several chromatin modifications involved. To this purpose specific staining and microscopical imaging techniques have been developed allowing for an exquisite investigation of the events immediately prior and following fertilisation. Results from these studies suggest mechanistic links between DNA methylation and histone modifications in early mammalian development as well as a putative role for constitutive heterochromatin changes both in composition and higher order organisation during the preimplantation period that may relate to cell fate.
Probst, A.V., Santos, F., Reik, W., Almouzni, G., and Dean, W. (2007) "Structural differences in centromeric heterochromatin are spatially reconciled on fertilisation in the mouse zygote." Chromosoma 116: 404-15.
Santos, F., Peters, A.H., Otte, A.P., Reik, W., and Dean, W. (2005) "Dynamic chromatin modifications characterise the first cell cycle in mouse embryos". Dev Biol 280: 225-36.
Santos, F., Zakhartchenko, V., Stojkovic, M., Peters, A., Jenuwein, T., Wolf, E., Reik, W., and Dean, W. (2003). "Epigenetic marking correlates with developmental potential in cloned bovine preimplantation embryos." Curr Biol 13: 1116-21.
Dean, W., Santos, F., Stojkovic, M., Zakhartchenko, V., Walter, J., Wolf, E., and Reik, W. (2001). "Conservation of methylation reprogramming in mammalian development: aberrant reprogramming in cloned embryos." Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98: 13734-8.