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Department of Biochemistry


Transcriptional control of stem cell fate

Cells of early mammalian embryos have the potential to develop into any adult cell type, and are thus said to be pluripotent. Pluripotency is lost during embryogenesis as cells begin to commit to specific developmental pathways.

The goal of the group is to understand the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms that underpin the ability of a homogeneous population of pluripotent cells to give rise to the massive heterogeneity existing in somatic tissues. To achieve this we are using a combination of biochemistry, genetics, developmental biology, bioinformatics, ES cell manipulation, in vitro differentiation, proteomics, and gene expression analyses.


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Lab members: Robin Floyd, Sarah Gharbi, Bertille Montibus, Ramy Ragheb, Nicola Reynolds

Visit group website at the Stem Cell Institute

Key publications:

1. Miller, A., Ralser, M., Kloet, S. L., Loos, R., Nishinakamura, R., Bertone, P., Vermeulen, M., and Hendrich, B. (2016). Sall4 controls differentiation of pluripotent cells independently of the Nucleosome Remodelling and Deacetylation (NuRD) complex. Development, 143(17):3074-84. doi: 10.1242/dev.139113

2. O'Shaughnessy-Kirwan, A., Signolet, J., Costello, I., Gharbi, S., and Hendrich, B. (2015). Constraint of gene expression by the chromatin remodelling protein CHD4 facilitates lineage specification. Development, 142(15), 2586–2597. doi:10.1242/dev.125450

3. dos Santos, R., Tosti, L., Radzisheuskaya, A., Caballero, I.M., Kaji, K*., Hendrich, B*. and Silva, J.C.R. * (2014) Mbd3/NuRD facilitates induction of pluripotency in a context dependent manner Cell Stem Cell doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2014.04.019 *co-senior authors

4. O’Shaughnessy, A. and Hendrich, B. (2013) CHD4 in the DNA-damage response and cell-cycle progression: not so NuRDY now. Biochem. Soc. Trans. 41(3):777-782. doi:10.1042/BST20130027.

5. Reynolds, N., O’Shaughnessy, A. and Hendrich, B. (2013) "Transcriptional repressors: multifaceted regulators of gene expression" Development, 140(3), 505–512. doi:10.1242/dev.083105

6. Reynolds, N., Latos, P., Hynes-Allen, A., Loos, R., Leaford, D., O’Shaughnessy, A., Mosaku, O., Signolet, J., Brennecke, P., Kalkan, T., Costello, I., Humphreys, P., Mansfield, W., Nakagawa, K., Strouboulis, J., Behrens, A. Bertone, P., and Hendrich, B. (2012) “NuRD suppresses pluripotency gene expression to promote transcriptional heterogeneity and lineage commitment”  Cell Stem Cell 10(5): 583-594. 10.1016/j.stem.2012.02.020 Open access: