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Centre for Trophoblast Research



I am interested in elucidating the role of epigenetics in gene regulation and how the interplay between epigenetic layers defines cell identity. The archetypal role of epigenetics is to reinforce the progression from an uncommitted cell to differentiated cells during development, allowing each resulting cell type to stably express a unique combination of genes. The key question of how specific epigenetic modifications are targeted to defined regions of the genome, especially during development, has remained particularly elusive.  During my career to date, I have focussed on the mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance and gene regulation in the developing placenta. More recently, I have begun investigating the establishment of the unusual epigenetic landscape in placental development. 


Key publications: 

Hanna CW, Demond H, Kelsey G (2018). Epigenetic regulation in development: is the mouse a good model for the human? Human Reproduction Update, 24(5):556-76.

Hanna CW, Taudt A, Huang J, Gahurova L, Kranz A, Andrews S, Dean W, Stewart AF, Colomé-Tatché M, Kelsey G (2018). MLL2 conveys transcription-independent H3K4 trimethylation in the oocyte. Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, 25(1):73-82.

Hanna CW, Kelsey G (2017). Genomic imprinting beyond DNA methylation: a role for maternal histones. Genome Biology, 18:177.

Hanna CW, Robinson WP (2017). Placentation and genomic imprinting.  In “Epigenetics in Human Reproduction and Development” Naumova and Taketo (Eds). World Scientific, Singapore.

Hanna CW, Penaherrera MS, Saadeh H, Andrews S, McFadden DE, Kelsey G, Robinson WP (2016). Pervasive polymorphic imprinted methylation in the human placenta. Genome Research, 26(6):756-67.  

Hanna CW (In press). Placental imprinting: Emerging mechanisms and functions. PLoS Genetics.

Hemberger M, Hanna CW, Dean W (2020). Mechanisms of early placental development in mouse and humans. Nature Reviews Genetics; 21(1):27-43.

Hanna CW, Pérez-Palacios R, Gahurova L, Schubert M, Krueger F, Biggins L, Andrews S, Colomé-Tatché M, Bourc’his D, Dean W, Kelsey G* (2019). Endogenous retroviral insertions drive non-canonical imprinting in extra-embryonic tissues. Genome Biology; 20(1):225.

Sendzikaite G, Hanna CW, Stewart-Morgan K, Ivanova E, Kelsey G (2019). A DNMT3A PWWP mutation leads to methylation of bivalent chromatin and postnatal growth restriction. Nature Communications, 10(1):1884.


Sir Henry Dale Fellow, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience
2018 Next Generation Fellow
 Courtney  Hanna