An ambitious EC-funded research initiative on epigenetics advancing towards systems biology 133

Two RISE 1 investigators have published a report mechanism that may lead to more efficient reprogramming of somatic cells

The team of researchers around Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla (Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology, Strasbourg) and Juanma Vaquerizas (Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, Münster) have managed to obtain in vitro totipotent cells with the same characteristics as those of the earliest embryonic stages and with even more interesting properties. The seeds for this work were planted at one of the EpiGeneSys meetings. Both investigators highlight the role of the network has played for this successful collaboration:

The work that our lab has just published contains a very strong component on computational biology and genome wide analysis, in particular, analysis of repetitive elements and their expression during the transition from a ‘pluripotent-like state' towards a ‘totipotent-like state'. The expertise of Juanma Vaquerizas, another RISE member of Epigenesys, was essential to perform this analysis, specially considering that computational analysis of repetitive elements is really challenging. Our collaboration actually started at one of the EpiGeneSys annual meetings, which put Juanma and I in contact in a very stimulating environment. Because we are both RISE members, I guess it was ‘natural' to undertake this collaboration together. Apart from our findings on chromatin regulation for achieving a more plastic cellular state, our work illustrates nicely a successful and powerful complementation of a cell biology, in vivo, hypothesis-driven study, with a computational approach
Maria Elena Torres Padilla

The RISE1 component of the EpiGeneSys network provides an excellent platform for researchers with different expertise to interact. In this particular case, it was straightforward to team up with Maria Elena Torres-Padilla’s lab to perform this work. We actually started the collaboration at one of the Annual Meetings. There, following specific discussions about the projects that had been presented in the meeting and our different research interests, it was clear that we could combine the expertise from both labs to tackle a difficult problem, such as the analysis of the expression of repetitive elements in the context of cellular potency. This was a challenging task, which required a significant amount of communication between the two groups, since it was crucial to interpret the results from the computational analyses within their biological context. Therefore, the initial link provided by EpiGenesys has been instrumental in allowing us to achieve the results that we have presented in this article.

CiM-PhD student Rocio Enriquez-Gasca (center) and Max Planck research group leader Dr. Juanma Vaquerizas (right) © MPI Münster / J. Müller-Keuker

Original publication:

Takashi Ishiuchi, Rocio Enriquez-Gasca, Eiji Mizutani, Ana Bošković, Celine Ziegler-Birling, Diego Rodriguez-Terrones, Teruhiko Wakayama, Juan M. Vaquerizas, Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla

Early embryonic-like cells are induced by down-regulating replication-dependent chromatin assembly
Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (2015) doi:10.1038/nsmb.3066

Press release on (french): De la pluripotence à la totipotence
Learn more on Max Planck Institute website: From pluripotency to totipotency