During my DPhil degree, I want to develop knowledge in molecular genetics, in the field of development and regeneration. Regeneration is widespread in the animal kingdom, but capacity of regeneration varies extremely between different animals. Many regulatory signals and factors coordinate to allow spatial and temporal control of regeneration. One of the potential factors is DNA methylation. An epigenetic mark that is known to contribute to differentiation and maintenance of cellular identity. During regeneration, which may requires both dedifferentiation and differentiation of cells, DNA methylation states are likely to be involved in the regenerative regulatory. Currently very little is known about these mechanisms.
The amphipod crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis is established as a model for development and regeneration. Its genome was recently sequenced. Bisulfate whole genome sequencing reported that Parhyale genome is methylated at CpG dinucleotides, but it remains unknown weather this methylation regulates gene expression. In my project, I started by investigating the function of DNA methylation in Parhyale during development. Using CRISPR/cas9 directed gene editing I performed knockout for DNA methylation machinery genes in 1-cell embryos. If methylation is regulating gene expression it will prove essential for successful embryogenesis. Knockout results indicate that DNA methylation is essential for embryogenesis. Currently I am performing CRISPR knock-in and using RNA-seq analysis to identify methylation dynamics during development. In the future, I will attempt to look at DNA methylation mechanisms during regeneration.
BSc in Biological Science at Umm Al-Qura University
MSc in Population Genetics and Genome Analysis at the University of Edinburgh
Joined Aboobaker’s lab at 2017 for DPhil.