My research addresses how gene expression programs change, leading to changes to cellular identity. In multicellular organisms, the genetic instructions that guide the initial stages of embryonic development are inherited from the egg as RNA. When the embryonic genome becomes active, new RNAs are transcribed, while maternally provided RNAs are destroyed. During this "maternal-to-zygotic transition," the embryo is effectively reprogrammed from an oocyte identity to pluripotency.
To understand the molecular mechanisms that drive this transition in vertebrates, we combine high-throughput comparative genomics approaches with classical genetics and embryology in zebrafish, to identify conserved transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulators of cellular identity.