Silvia Pérez Lluch
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1998-2002 – Bachelor in Biology, Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Barcelona, Spain
2003-2007 – PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Barcelona Biomedical Research Institute (IRB), Barcelona, Spain
2007-2012 – Postdoctoral Researcher at the Genetics Department, University of Barcelona (UB), Barcelona, Spain
2013-2016 – Postdoctoral Researcher at the Bioinformatics and Genomics Program, Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Barcelona, Spain
Since January 2017 – Staff Scientist at the Bioinformatics and Genomics Program, Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Barcelona, Spain
The regulation of gene expression is essential to ensure the proper cell division and differentiation. In the living organism, the differences in gene expression between cells allow for the correct specification of tissues and, in the end, to the correct development of the organism. The mechanisms by which genes undergo activation or silencing in a particular cell type comprise recruitment of specific transcription factors, methylation of the DNA and histone post-translational modifications.
Histone marks, in particular, have been assigned a central role in the determination of cell commitment during differentiation by allowing for establishment and maintenance of particular gene expression patterns. However, the mechanism by which histone marks could influence gene expression is still uncertain. Strikingly, recent studies suggest that the role that chromatin would play in regulating transcription could be not as causative as previously thought. The tri-methylation of lysine 4 of the histone H3 tail, for instance, has been canonically associated to the transcription start site (TSS) of active genes. However, very recently, we have seen that genes that are expressed transiently for a short period of time during the fruit fly development do not present this histone modification. Also the mono-methylation of lysine 4 has been widely associated to enhancer regions; however, different groups have demonstrated that it is the enzyme responsible for the methylation deposition but not the histone mark itself that it essential for the enhancer function. These observations argue against a causative role of histone marks in regulation of gene expression, and point to a more consequential relationship.
In this framework, the overarching goal of our research line is to untangle the relationship between histone post-translational modifications and the regulation of gene expression.