Gene expression is precisely controlled in time and space during the development of Metazoan organisms. While numerous studies have established how spatial information is integrated by gene regulatory regions, called enhancers, little is known about the temporal aspects of transcription. Most of our insights into gene regulation stem from the use of fixed preparations where timing is artificially reconstituted from different snapshots.
Our goal is to integrate the dynamic aspects of transcription to understand how coordination is achieved and whether it is required during development. Transcriptional coordination refers to the inter-nuclear temporal coordination in gene activation (synchrony) and homogeneity in mRNA distribution across a field of coordinately developing cells.
Initially we will characterize the mechanisms of transcriptional coordination in the early Drosophila embryo, a model system which allows quantitative imaging and genetic manipulations. However the ultimate goal of the programme is to extend these analyses to later stages of development during complex tissue specification.
We mainly study early Drosophila development: the first 4 hours of embryogenesis.
The approach is highly integrative with techniques ranging from classical genetics and molecular biology to whole-genome profiling and state of the art live imaging microscopy. Image quantification and mathematical modeling are important aspects of our research.