The team focuses on chromatin dynamics at transcriptional enhancers.
Enhancers are essential non-coding elements of the genome involved in long-distance cell-specific regulation of gene expression and whose mutation can impact on disease development. These small genomic regions are responsible for the fine tuning of cell-specific gene expression and as such participate in cell type determination and maintenance. Their selection and priming for activation depend on the initial binding of sequence-specific transcription factors called “pioneer factors” as they prepare enhancers for the binding of additional transcription factors and subsequent activation of target genes.
As an example of one such pioneer factor, FOXA1 binds condensed chromatin and is required for the differentiation of pluripotent cells into neural progenitors as well as for the correct establishment of the estrogen receptor (ER) cistrome in breast cancer cells.
To understand the relationship between pioneer factor binding and enhancer priming events, we study chromatin dynamics through biochemical analysis (chromatin and/or DNA immunoprecipitation - ChIP and DIP) and high resolution microscopy.
We integrate biochemical and microscopy data to unravel the dynamic organization of chromatin at subsets of enhancers bound by transcription factors and their pioneer factors.