Laboratory of Mammalian Molecular Embryology
Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, England
How and when embryonic gene activity begins following fertilization are unknown. In a paper just published in Cell Reports (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2023.112023), we report a high-resolution time-course that reveals a transcription programme initiating within four hours of fertilization in mouse one-cell embryos. We refer to this programme as immediate embryonic genome activation, or iEGA. The iEGA programme predicts embryonic and cancer-associated pathway expression: regulators predicted by iEGA are also predicted by gene expression in human one-cell embryos, and inhibiting them in the mouse quickly blocks transcription and embryonic development. We hope that parallels between embryos and cancer could in the future be exploited to close gaps in our understanding of both.
In an Opinion piece just published in Trends in Cell Biology ('The initiation of mammalian embryonic transcription: to begin at the beginning': https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tcb.2022.08.008), Tony describes a model to account for the onset of embryonic transcription based on the lab's work on human one-cell embryos. The initiation of gene activity in embryos has parallels to cancer, and the model proposes that the origin of many cancers is epigenetic and recapitulates the initiation of embryogenesis by fertilisation.
Tony has been appointed to the Scientific and Clinical Advances Advisory Committee, which considers advances in science and clinical practice relevant to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
[December 21st, 2021] ‘Human embryonic genome activation initiates at the one-cell stage’
Our latest work published in Cell Stem Cell
[June 21st, 2021] 'Discovery of new imprinted genes'
our new paper is published in Nature Communications
[May 25th, 2020] 'Nanodevices show how cells change with time, by tracking from the inside' our new paper is published in Nature Materials
[October 22nd, 2019] 'This House Supports the Creation of Genetically Modified Human Babies' at the Warwick University Debating Union.
[November 16th, 2018] "Protein expression revisited" Our recent work has been featured in Science http://www.sciencemag.org/features/2018/11/protein-expression-revisited?_ga=2.36552931.2146500983.1543447456-1278811488.1543447456
[August 21st, 2018] "DNA+: Beauty", BBC iPlayer programme
[July 3rd, 2018] A novel switch to control genome editing
[June 14-15th, 2018] UK-Japan bilateral international meeting
[February 8th, 2018]
Tony will give a talk about human genome editing at the Royal College of Physicians Advanced Medicine conference https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/events/advanced-medicine-2
[January 31st, 2018] Tony speaks at Festive of Genomics
[November 9th, 2017] Humans 2.0: the lab contributes to a review on mitochondrial replacement therapy in November’s issue of Nature Biotechnology
[June 14th, 2017]: Tony speaks at Ideacity, Toronto, on human genome editing