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Epigenetic mechanisms of germline gene regulation

We recently developed a versatile, reproducible protocol to isolate germ nuclei at a scale that permits genomic analyses. Using this technique, we defined novel chromatin states in wild type germ cells to establish the genomic context in which germline gene regulation occurs. Chromatin states represent the regulatory information that can be inferred from combining genomic profiles of multiple chromatin features such as histone modifications, accessibility and transcript abundance. However, whether a given chromatin state is causal for, or a consequence of, these regulatory events is often unclear because the identity and function of proteins that bind to or interact with the histone modifications and directly mediate downstream events are poorly characterized. We are currently investigating factors that read different chromatin marks and affect nucleosome remodeling at distinct gene targets, including a group of genes that primarily function in the post-fertilization embryo.