Research areas

Our lab studies chromatin regulation in human stem cells, with a special interest in how epigenetic complexes regulate cardiac development

This includes understanding the molecular mechanism of epigenetic regulation by Polycomb group (PcG) and Trithorax group (TrxG) proteins, transcriptional regulation of cardiac development, DNA-binding protein in guiding epigenetic specificity, and how epitranscriptomics and epigenetics crosstalk. Interdisciplinary approaches including protein and nucleic acid biochemistry, stem cell biology, CRISPR genome editing, high-throughput genome-wide sequencing, and computational techniques are used in the lab to tackle these fundamental questions. 

Research area #1: Regulation of Polycomb group (PcG) and Trithorax group (TrxG) proteins 

Polycomb group (PcG) and Trithorax group (TrxG) proteins play key roles in the epigenetic repression and activation of developmental genes. Key macromolecular interactions regulate PcG and TrxG dynamically in a spatiotemporal manner to control gene ON/OFF switch during stem cell differentiation. One of the key epigenetic complexes that we focus on is the Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2), which catalyzes the mon-, di- and tri- methylation of Lysine 27 of histone H3 (H3K27me3, which is the hallmark for facultative heterochromatin).

Research area #2: Epigenetic regulation of cardiomyocyte differentiation and cardiovascular diseases 

Epigenetic regulation is critical for cardiovascular development and misregulation frequently leads to diseases. These epigenetic events include histone modifications, DNA methylations, higher order chromatin architecture and RNA-mediated regulations. We use iPSC - cardiomyocyte differentiation as the model system to study these processes.

iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes

wild type clone A

wild type clone B

mutant clone A

mutant clone B

Research area #3: Decode the crosstalk between epigenetics and epitranscriptomics  

Epigenetics is orchestrated by chemical modifications of histone and DNA, while epitranscriptomics focuses on the modifications and editing of RNA. Both processes are extremely important for cellular homeostasis, cell fate determination and development. Novel interdependency between these two conventionally distinct fields has recently been discovered, and crosstalk between epigenetics and epitranscriptomics could be more widespread than expected.