The Vastenhouw Lab goes to Laboratory Animal Science Training

Our lab took part in a one week theory and practical training on “Using Experimental Animals in Research”.
During the course we also got exposed to different kinds of fish: besides our favorite zebrafish, we even performed small experiments with medaka and Tilapia! As is evident from the group picture, we had a lot of fun and would like to thank all the organizers.

eLife paper on ZGA timing: activator-repressor competition

Our study demonstrating how repressors (histones) and activators (transcription factors) jointly control transcription in the zebrafish embryo is now available online: Competition between histone and transcription factor binding regulates the onset of transcription in zebrafish embryos. Joseph et al. eLife (2016)

Competition Model

In this study, lead by Shai Joseph (Vastenhouw Lab) and carried out collaboratively with the Shevchenko and Zaburdaev lab, we could quantitatively address a long-standing question: how is the timing at which transcription starts in embryos controlled?

By a combination of quantitative, molecular, and functional techniques, we found that the two most prominent hypotheses, the "depleted repressor" and the "increasing activator" models, can be unified in a competition model. Here, repressing histones and activating transcription factors go head-to-head competing for access to DNA target sites.

Additionally, the nuclear-to-cytoplasmic ratio - often defined in the number of genomes in an embryo - resurfaced as a key concept, though in the form of a volume ratio between cell nuclei and overall cytoplasm. While the global concentration of not DNA-bound histones did not change at the time of transcription onset, we detected a marked decrease in the concentration of not DNA-bound histones specifically within cell nuclei.

 

DIPP predoc course at the Vastenhouw lab

Our lab participated in teaching a week-long practical course to students of the Dresden Internation PhD Program (DIPP) who are in the first year of their PhD.
The students learned about the CRISPR-Cas9 system and how it can be applied to model organisms such as zebrafish for efficient genome editing and mutagenesis.
Amongst others, with CRISPR they managed to mutate a gene required for pigmentation of the zebrafish!

Marsden grant awarded

We are excited to announce that a Marsden grant was awarded to Julia Horsfield (University of Otago, NZ), Justin O’Sullivan (University of Auckland, NZ) and us, to investigate how genes switch on at the start of life. The Marsden Fund, which was established in 1994 to fund excellent fundamental research, is a contestable fund administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Looking forward to exciting collaborations across continents 🙂

EMBO Workshop: Maternal-to-Zygotic Transition

The MPI-CBG will host the EMBO Workshop “Awakening of the Genome: The Maternal-to-Zygotic Transition” from 23rd to 26th of April, 2017.
Nadine Vastenhouw and her co-organizers Philip Zegerman, Howard Lipshitz, and Petr Svoboda will be hosting an eclectic roster of international experts cutting across disciplines, techniques, and model systems.
To learn more about the speakers, programme, and – of course – to register, please visit http://events.embo.org/17-mzt/
Feel free to print and display the workshop poster (here as full definition PDF).

 

Carine Stapel attends the MBL Embryology Course 2016

From June 4 to July 17 Carine joined the MBL Embryology course in Woods Hole. This course has a longstanding tradition (since 1893) in teaching students, postdocs and faculty the nuts and bolts of developmental biology. From C. elegans, chick and ctenophore to sea urchin, snails and squid (and zebrafish of course!), the morning lectures and experiments that lasted until the wee hours of the night covered them all. Now let’s see if she can convince the Vastenhouw lab to add some new species to its repertoire! 

Pavel’s Birthday

The Vastenhouw Lab celebrated Pavel's birthday with delicious bakery goods from the Czech Republic.  Gastrulating zebrafish embryos made from Play-Doh were an absolute must for the celebration.