Development successfully establishes and rearranges heterochromatin to generate a multitude of cell fates and functions; understanding this process provides new tools for manipulating cell identity. During the first stages of preimplantation cell division H3K9me3 undergoes dynamic changes to silence repetitive elements and begin lineage commitment (Wang et al., Nature Cell Biol., 2018). Later in development H3K9me3 is important to restrict cell lineage during differentiation and development (Nicetto/Zaret, Science, 2019). The mechanisms by which specific genes are targeted for heterochromatin repression and later de-repression are poorly understood.
We aim to better understand H3K9me3 dynamics during development and the proteins and mechanisms responsible for establishment, maintenance, and removal of cell type specific heterochromatin distributions.