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SciLifeLab Fellows seminar series: The silent Polycomb revolution – new roles for old faces

Speaker: Oliver BellInstitute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) of the Austrian Academy of Science, Vienna


Transcriptional silencing by Polycomb group (PcG) proteins is a major paradigm for epigenetic inheritance from fly to human. The Polycomb Repressive Complexes PRC1 and PRC2 catalyse distinct chromatin modifications to enforce gene silencing. However, the mechanisms underlying the inheritence of transcriptional silencing by different PRC complexes are not known. Addressing this question has been extremely challenging due to technical limitations that do not discern the initiation from sequence-independent maintenance of repression. We have solved this problem by developing an approach to reversibly recruit PRC1 or PRC2 to transcriptionally inactive or active chromatin in mouse embryonic stem cells. For the first time, we directly and systematically interrogate the ability of different PcG complexes to (1) form repressive chromatin structure, (2) initiate gene silencing, and (3) maintain silencing. I will present an unexpected division of labour between different PRC1 and PRC2 complexes in epigenetic silencing.


Oliver Bell is a Principal Investigator at IMBA. He performed his PhD at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, with Dirk Schübeler and was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Gerald R. Crabtree, Howard Hughes Medical Institutes and Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, USA. He is interested in the mechanisms that underlie epigenetic memory of cell fate decisions and uses synthetic biology approaches in mouse stem cells to manipulate chromatin modifications and study their dynamics and inheritance.

Date: October 2

Time: 13:00-14:00

Venue: Air&Fire auditorium, SciLifeLab Solna

Host: Simon Elsässer

This seminar is part of a seminar series hosted by SciLifeLab Fellows