The regulation of transcription during vertebrate embryogenesis is one of the most poorly understood - and yet critically essential - developmental processes. The goal of our research is to study how the transcriptional machinery and chromatin template are brought together in time and space to robustly regulate transcription during development.
After fertilization, animals go through cleavage divisions that transform the one-cell egg into a multicellular embryo. During this phase, the genome is inactive, and embryos rely on the products their mothers provided them. During the maternal to zygotic transition, developmental control is handed from maternally provided gene products to those synthesized from the zygotic genome. The onset of transcription is an excellent system to determine how all of the different variables that influence the decision to transcribe a gene or not come together to generate complex transcriptional programs.
We use zebrafish embryos as they allow us to combine molecular biology & biochemistry, genetics & genomics, and imaging & biophysics to study transcription regulation in the context of early embryonic development.