Cell and Developmental BiologyChromatin structure and function

Chromatin structure and function

Genomic functions take place in chromatin, not in naked DNA. In recent years, our knowledge about the regulation of chromatin functions has improved thanks to the identification of components and mechanisms that modify its structural and functional properties, such as remodelling complexes, histone modifications (acetylation, methylation...)and the corresponding enzymes, histone variants that localise to specific chromosome locations, structural non-histone proteins that contribute to the structural properties of specific chromatin regions (heterochromatin), among others. Our research focuses on the study of the molecular basis of chromatin function and its regulation.

  • Epigenetic regulation of genomic functions
  • Centromere structure and function: chromosome segregation
  • Study of the structural and functional properties of heterochromatin
  • Study of the epigenetic mechanisms involved in the regulation of homeotic gene expression in Drosophila

I. Centromere structure and function: chromosome segregation.

We seek to determine the structural and functional properties of centromeric and telomeric chromatin and its contribution to chromosome segregation.

Our specific objectives are:

  • To perform structural and functional analysis of the centric histone H3 variants and their role in kinetochore assembly.
  • To analyse the contribution of the RNAi pathway to the establishment and maintenance of heterochromatin.
  • To study the molecular determinants of the interaction of HP1 proteins with chromatin.
  • To analyse the contribution of multi-KH domain proteins to the structural and functional properties of centric heterochromatin and its and determine its participation in chromosome condensation and segregation.

II. Epigenetic regulation of chromatin structure and function.

Here we address the contribution of histone modifications to the regulation of chromatin structure and function.

Our specific objectives are:

  • To determine the pattern of post-translation modification of histone H1 and to analyse its contribution to the structural and functional properties of chromatin.
  • To perform the functional characterisation of histone methyl-transferases.
  • To perform the structural and functional characterisation of chromatin factors that specifically recognise methylated histones.

III.- Epigenetic regulation of homeotic gene expression in Drosophila.

Chromatin structure plays a crucial role in the regulation of gene expression. In this context, our efforts focus on determining the contribution of chromatin structure to the establishment and maintenance of the pattern of expression of homeotic genes in Drosophila.

Our specific objectives are:

  • To analyse the contribution of chromatin structure to the functional regulation of the bithorax complex.
  • To analyse the contribution of the dSAP18 protein to the regulation of Fab-7 functions.
Bayona-Feliu A, Casas-Lamesa A, Reina O, Bernués J and Azorín F.
Nat Commun, 8 (1), 283 (2017)
Moreno-Moreno O, Torras-Llort M and Azorín F.
Bioessays, 39 (4), (2017)
Pérez-Montero S, Carbonell A and Azorín F.
Chromosoma, 125 (1), 1-13 (2016)
Kessler R, Tisserand J, Font-Burgada J, Reina O, Coch L, Attolini CS, Garcia-Bassets I and Azorín F.
Nat Commun, 6 7049 (2015)
Font-Burgada J, Reina O, Rossell D and Azorín F.
Nucleic Acids Res, 42 (4), 2126-37 (2014)
Pérez-Montero S, Carbonell A, Morán T, Vaquero A and Azorín F.
Dev Cell, 26 (6), 578-90 (2013)
Lloret-Llinares M, Pérez-Lluch S, Rossell D, Morán T, Ponsa-Cobas J, Auer H, Corominas M and Azorín F.
Nucleic Acids Res, 40 (19), 9493-505 (2012)
Vujatovic O, Zaragoza K, Vaquero A, Reina O, Bernués J and Azorín F.
Nucleic Acids Res, 40 (12), 5402-14 (2012)
Moreno-Moreno O, Medina-Giró S, Torras-Llort M and Azorín F.
Curr Biol, 21 (17), 1488-93 (2011)
Guitart T, Leon Bernardo T, Sagalés J, Stratmann T, Bernués J and Ribas de Pouplana L.
J Biol Chem, 285 (49), 38157-66 (2010)
Torras-Llort M, Moreno-Moreno O and Azorín F.
Embo J, 28 (16), 2337-48 (2009)
Font-Burgada J, Rossell D, Auer H and Azorín F.
Gene Dev, 22 (21), 3007-23 (2008)
Aguilar-Arnal L, Marsellach FX and Azorín F.
Embo J, 27 (7), 1029-38 (2008)

This group receives funding from the following:

  • Programa Nacional de Promoción General del Conocimiento (National Programme for the Promotion of  Knowledge)
  • European Commission FP6

Group news & mentions

<p>Drosophila polytene chromosome. In yellow, the chromocenter region where heterochromatin is accumulated. Image: Jordi Bernués, IRB Barcelona.</p>
21 Aug 2017

Several media, including Quo Magazine, have echoed the research headed by Ferran Azorín, CSIC research professor and group leader of the Chromatin Structure and Function laboratory at IRB Barcelona

<p>Drosophila polytene chromosome. In yellow, the chromocenter region where heterochromatin is accumulated. Image: Jordi Bernués, IRB Barcelona.</p>
16 Aug 2017

Scientists headed by Ferran Azorín, CSIC research professor and head of the Chromatin Structure a

<p>Image: HealthDay.</p>
18 May 2017

The American producer of health content HealthDay reports on the research on risk of obesity led by Ujue Fresan, a PhD student in the Chromatin Structure and Function Lab at IRB Barcelona.

4 May 2015

Various media have published the discovery made by the team led by Ferran Azorín, group leader at IRB Barcelona and CSIC research professor, and recently published in the journal Nature Communi

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