Epigenetics and developmental biology research
Explore our work in epigenetics and developmental biology, 1 of the 6 areas of expertise in our Biological Sciences research
Epigenetics explores changes in how genes are expressed and how cells read them, whereas traditional molecular genetics focuses on changes to a DNA sequence. Developmental biology looks at the processes governing organism growth and development.
We're investigating the basic mechanisms underlying cell differentiation and development. This leads to an understanding of how human health and disease is shaped by changes in the form and function of cells, organs and whole bodies over the lifespan of an organism.
We're using our expertise in epigenetics and developmental biology to find new ways to treat genetic disorders. We're identifying novel targets for drugs and searching for advances in treatment that could impact the lives of millions around the world.
Advances in high-throughput sequencing have resulted in enormous data sets, and we're using bioinformatic analysis to find the links between gene expression, health and disease, and studying the interplay between gene regulation and gene function in embryonic development.
We're transforming that knowledge into possible therapies, which we're testing on model organisms, like chicken and Xenopus frog embryos – two ethically-acceptable and powerful models for human development, used for in vivo cell and stem cell testing, short term-analysis of gene function, and gene regulation.
We also have particular expertise in microsurgery, microscopy, cell culture, molecular and cell biology, and our research is regularly published in major international scientific publications, such as PLoS ONE, Developmental Biology, Developmental Dynamics, Open Biology, the Journal of Anatomy, Gene, BMC Bioinformatics, Reproduction and Fertility and Development.
Our research focuses on the following topics
- Cell and stem cell biology
- Embryonic development
- Molecular biology
Facilities and research methods
Our exceptional facilities play an important role in our work, including fluorescence microscopy, real-time PCR and micro-CT. The European Xenopus Resource Centre – part of a global network of laboratories – has established a rapid pipeline for the testing of gene function in the Xenopus frog model, using CRISPR/Cas technology.
We use various methods in our research. Gene expression is manipulated to test gene function using a range of methods, including CRISPR Cas9 for gene editing, and analysed by RT-PCR, high-throughput RNAseq, Western blotting and immunohistochemistry.
Collaborations and funding
We regularly collaborate on research with industry and academic partners around the world. We've worked on projects with Southampton General Hospital, the Nencki Institute (Poland), the Zoological Society of London and Genomics England, who we're working with on the 100,000 Genomes Project, which aims to identify rare disease genes.
We've received research funding from major funders such as the Wellcome Trust, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Anatomical Society and the National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs).
An optimized method for cryogenic storage of Xenopus sperm to maximise the effectiveness of research using genetically altered frogs
Theriogenology 92 (2017) 149e155, DOI: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2017.01.007, Esther Pearl, Sean Morrow, Anna Noble, Adelaide Lerebours, Marko Horb, Matthew Guille
Relating protein functional diversity to cell type number identifies genes that determine dynamic aspects of chromatin organisation as potential contributors to organismal complexity
PLOS ONE, doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185409, 2017, Daniela Lopes Cardoso, Colin Sharpe
Engrailed controls epaxial-hypaxial muscle innervation and the establishment of vertebrate three-dimensional mobility
Dev Biol. (2017) Oct 1;430(1):90–104. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2017.08.011, Ahmed MU, Maurya AK, Cheng L, Jorge EC, Schubert FR, Maire P, Basson MA, Ingham PW, Dietrich S.
Gene. 2017 Jan 30;599:78–86. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2016.11.013, L Nazlamova, A Noble, FR Schubert, J McGeehan, F Myers, M Guille, G Scarlett
Biodiversity and evolution
Ecotoxicology and environmental monitoring
Environmental microbiology and biotechnology
We're exploring disciplinary boundaries to discover, understand and develop knowledge for the benefit of the environment and humankind.
We're researching the basic mechanisms underlying cell differentiation and development leading to an understanding of how human health and disease is shaped.