Novosibirsk State University has created an Epigenetics Laboratory to implement the project "Non-Mendelian Heritage: Conservative Genomic Imprinting Mechanisms" in cooperation with the Genomics Laboratory at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology SB RAS. The Laboratory studies specific molecular and cellular aspects of evolutionarily conserved mechanisms that regulate the effects of parental origin in animals.
Epigenetic research is important to gain an understanding of evolutionary relationships and for creating regenerative medicine practical applications, where the proper regulation of imprinted genes is necessary for the production of therapeutically viable embryonic stem cells.
Current interest in regenerative medicine is based on two discoveries that provided a rational basis for obtaining histocompatible tissues from "patient-specific" pluripotent stem cells. The first method is the induction of iPS cells in which "reprogramming factors" are introduced into somatic cells. This leads to their dedifferentiation and the formation of pluripotent ES-like stem cells called iPS cells. These cells can be redifferentiated into any cell type for transplantation. The second method for obtaining ES cells involves the removal of human ES cells with the help of SCNT (NT-ES cells) when the differentiated nuclei are transferred to human oocytes and after blastocyst activation.
Despite the obvious potential for therapy based on iPS cells and NTES cells, several problems must be overcome before these therapies become safe and routine. The main obstacle to the successful production of iPS cells and NT-ES cells is the incorrect expression of imprinted genes. This research will reveal basic evolutionary-conservative mechanisms that regulate the expression of imprinted genes. This knowledge can be used later to ensure the correct regulation of imprinted genes in the production of "patient-specific" pluripotent stem cells.
The research is focused on three classical model systems that describe an imprint of whole sets of chromosomes (Plannococcus citri), sex chromosomes (Sciara coprophila) and individual imprinted genes (Mus musculus).
Head of the Laboratory: Stepan Belyakin, Ph.D.
Project Leader: Dr. Prim Singh (Great Britain)