Max Planck Research Group
Regulatory Networks in Stem Cells
Complex regulatory networks are the molecular foundation of cell fate decisions and allow cells to acquire and stably maintain distinct transcriptional and epigenetic states. The overall goal of our research is to elucidate the regulatory principles employed by such networks to reliably control the transition of embryonic stem cells to further differentiated cell types.
To address these questions, we study the process of X‑chromosome inactivation, which has evolved in mammals to equalize X-chromosome dosage between the sexes. X-inactivation is controlled by the long non-coding RNA Xist, which is expressed exclusively from the inactive X and mediates chromosome-wide gene silencing in cis. X-inactivation occurs during the exit from the pluripotent state and can therefore be recapitulated in differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells.
We combine mathematical modeling with microscopy, genomics and genome engineering techniques to investigate the molecular mechanisms that govern X-inactivation and link it with stem cell differentiation.