The epigenome serves multiple roles in regulating gene expression, suppressing repetitive elements, and organizing the genome in the nucleus. Loss of these functions can be catastrophic, causing cells to change their identity, fate, proliferative capacity, or survival outcomes. This is epitomized in cancer cells, where the epigenome is radically different from that of normal cells, characterized by loss of heterochromatin marks, DNA hypomethylation, and dramatic changes in nuclear structure. A central, unanswered question in cancer biology is how widescale epigenetic changes lead to molecular changes and cellular phenotypes that allow cells to escape from the pathways that restrict proliferation and retain cellular identity. Our lab addresses this using zebrafish in which the epigenetic regulator and oncogene, UHRF1 is overexpressed, causing senescence and liver cancer. Epigenetic patterns that govern gene expression are critical to promoting regeneration, and our lab is also studying how the epigenetic code permits the expression of pro-regenerative genes in diverse organisms, including the mammalian liver and octopus arm.
Learn more about Kirsten Sadler Edepli's Lab.