Institute

A fundamental question in biology is to understand the mechanisms underlying cellular plasticity; the ability of a cell to give rise to multiple cell types upon differentiation. Increasing evidence indicates that epigenetic mechanisms are at the core of the molecular mechanisms that regulate cellular plasticity.  The IES aims to decipher the epigenetic mechanisms that regulate the transitions in cellular plasticity in vivo.  

In mammals, following fertilization and fusion of the gametes – two highly differentiated cells – intense chromatin remodelling and epigenetic reprogramming are necessary for the reversion to an undifferentiated state to restore full developmental potency (totipotency). Subsequent development and differentiation are accompanied with progressive loss of potency. As a result of these steps, the first pluripotent stem cells in the embryo are formed, but totipotency is lost. We focus on understanding how these processes are regulated by chromatin-mediated changes in gene regulation, that is, by epigenetic information. 

The IES builds up the establishment of a nucleus for epigenetic research at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and bridges a range of topics including stem cell biology and environmental and metabolic impacts on the (epi)genome. 

One of our key activities is technology development towards cutting-edge imaging approaches to uncover, quantify and model biological processes. Towards this aim, the IES Microscopy Core develops and implements imaging strategies from image acquisition and processing to database management.

Find out more on our research topics here