We are studing epigenetic genes regulation in course of developmental and cell differentiation.
The model system for studing the fundamental epigenetic mechanisms that establish heritable patterns of gene expression during the processes of cellular differentiation and lineage restriction is X-chromosome inactivation phenomenon. The key questions to understand are how do cells determine how many (if any), and which X chromosomes to inactivate?, and also what is the nature of the signal that results in global transcriptional silencing of the entire X chromosome? Understanding the mechanisms by which the inactive state is heritably maintained through subsequent cell divisions can shed light on the highly conserved mechanisms of chromatin mediated heritable gene silencing that are observed to occur in organisms as diverse as yeast and man?
Among the subjects consistently studied for inactivation, the common vole goes third after the mouse and the man. There is promise in comparative studies of closely related vole species for finding correlations between changes in DNA sequences and between-species differences in inactivation processes. Because of nonrandom X-inactivation in interspecific vole hybrids, they represent a unique model for studying elements responsible for the choice of which X-chromosome to inactivate. Differences existing in the inactivation centers and X-chromosomes in different vole species allow interspecific hybrids to be used to keep track, on both molecular and cytological level, of the X-chromosomes that will and will not be active.
The head of the laboratory is Suren M. Zakian, Dr. Sci., proffesor
The main directions of our progects are: