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  Group Chromatin and cell biology.
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Chromatin and cell biology.

(Department Genome Dynamics)


Leader: Giacomo CAVALLI


In eukaryotes, chromatin is essential for heredity. Chromatin architectures are sometimes epistatic over the DNA and impart different heritable functions to the same DNA sequence or the same function to unrelated DNA sequences. In higher eukaryotes, memory of cell fates can be maintained by regulatory proteins classified in the Polycomb Group (PcG) and the trithorax Group (trxG). PcG proteins are maintain silent states of gene expression, while trxG members maintain active chromatin states. These proteins are able to recognize regulatory states of their target genes and to maintain these states even after disappearance of the primary transcriptional regulators that have induced them in the first place. Remarkably, these states can also be transmitted to a fraction of the progeny over multiple generations. In our lab, we aim at understanding the molecular mechanisms by which PcG and trxG proteins regulate their target genes, convey inheritance of chromatin states and orchestrate development. To reach this goal, we employ a variety of complementary approaches and techniques in the areas of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, genomics and bioinformatics.


Keywords: Chromatin, chromosome, nuclear organization, development, Polycomb, trithorax, Drosophila


Group's News


News To be published in Cell

The 3D organization of the genome has emerged recently as intimately linked to its biological function, yet its relation to cell fate during development not understood. Bonev et al. (Cavalli's team) used ultrahigh resolution Hi-C maps to characterize changes in 3D nuclear architecture during mouse neural development and identified multiple factors that influence the dynamics of chromatin interactions. The drawing represents an artistic view of a mouse embryo, hands grasping each other symbolizing chromatin contacts and multiple scales of compaction associated with the chromatin fiber. Hi-C contacts maps are shown in the background.
Copyright: Adrien Méchali

News We are more than our DNA...

The lab of Giacomo Cavalli at the Institute of Human Genetics of Montpellier (CNRS and University of Montpellier), in collaboration with researchers at INRA, ETH and Caltech has demonstrated the existence of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance (TEI) in Drosophila. By transiently modifying the 3D organization of chromosomes and the function of Polycomb proteins, whose function is essential in development, the Cavalli lab has obtained fly lines characterized by different eye colors in the presence of the same DNA sequence. These differences depend on a variable degree of Polycomb-dependent gene silencing that can be stably but reversibly transmitted through a large number of generations. This epigenetic inheritance applies to transgenic as well as natural populations and can be modulated by environmental conditions, such as growth temperature. These results have been published in the journal Nature Genetics on April 24, 2017. Read the article at Ciabrelli et al. Nature Genetics, doi:10.1038/ng.3848
Artwork (c) Elisa Cavalli

[Press release]

Read more

News A new epigenetic mechanism mediating tumor suppression by Polycomb proteins

The Cavalli lab shows that a complex of Polycomb group proteins has a tumor suppressor activity that depends on its specific binding to hundreds of genes involved in the control of proliferation, cell signaling and polarity. This activity was discovered in Drosophila, but the same chromosomal binding pattern is observed in differentiated human cells, suggesting that this phenomenon might be conserved in some human tumors. This study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, opens new perspectives in the field of carcinogenesis.
Read more.


Group's publications of the year (2017):

Bonev, B., Mendelson Cohen, N., Szabo, Q., Fritsch, L., Papadopoulos, G., Lubling, Y., Xu, X., Hugnot, JP., Tanay, A., Cavalli, G. .
Multi-scale 3D genome rewiring during mouse neural development.
(2017), CELL : 171(3):557-572
Ciabrelli F, Comoglio F, Fellous S, Bonev B, Ninova M, Szabo Q, Xuéreb A, Klopp C, Aravin A, Paro R, Bantignies F, Cavalli G.
Stable Polycomb-dependent transgenerational inheritance of chromatin states in Drosophila
(2017), Nat. Genet. : 49(6):876-886
Sati S, Cavalli G..
Chromosome conformation capture technologies and their impact in understanding genome function
(2017), Chromosoma : 126(1):33-44
Schauer T, Ghavi-Helm Y, Sexton T, Albig C, Regnard C, Cavalli G, Furlong EE, Becker PB..
Chromosome topology guides the Drosophila Dosage Compensation Complex for target gene activation
(2017), EMBO Rep. : in press
Schuettengruber, B., Bourbon, HM., Di Croce, L., Cavalli, G..
Genome Regulation by Polycomb and Trithorax: 70 Years and Counting
(2017), CELL : 171, 1, 34-57
Schwartz YB, Cavalli G..
Three-Dimensional Genome Organization and Function in Drosophila
(2017), Genetics : 205, 1, 5-24


All the publications of the group


Name / First name Room Phone status


BANTIGNIES Frederic 106-107 9997 DR (CNRS) E-mail    Photo  
CAVALLI Giacomo 103 9970 DR (CNRS) E-mail    Photo  
CHEUTIN Thierry 106-107 9997 CR (CNRS) E-mail    Photo  
MARTINEZ Anne-Marie 200 9969 PU (Univ.Montp.2) E-mail    Photo  
SCHUTTENGRUBER Bernd 106-107 9997 CR (INSERM) E-mail    Photo  

   Engineer & Administrative

FRITSCH Lauriane 104-105 9968 IE (CNRS) E-mail    Photo  


BONEV Boyan 104-105 9968 (CNRS) E-mail    Photo  
GROB Stefan 106-107 9997 (CNRS) E-mail    Photo  
OGIYAMA Yuki 104-105 9968 E-mail    Photo  
PAPADOPOULOS Giorgio Lucio 104-105 9968 (CNRS) E-mail   
SATI Satish 104-105 9968 (Univ.Montp) E-mail    Photo  

   PhD students

ENTREVAN Marianne 106-107 9997 (Univ.Montp) E-mail    Photo  
LOUBIERE Vincent 104-105 9968 (Univ.Montp) E-mail    Photo  
PULICANI Sylvain 170 9564 (Univ.Montp) E-mail    Photo  
SZABO Quentin 106 9997 (Univ.Montp) E-mail    Photo  

Chromatin and cell biology. Group

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