The discovery of the Epigenome marked the turning point for a better understanding of the complexity of gene regulation and phenotype variation.

While the largest part of available knowledge about Epigenetic mechanisms comes from studies performed in developmental contexts, very little is known about the function of the epigenome in adult tissues, how this changes in response to environment and time.​

Far from being a rigid platform, the Epigenome controls the capacity of cells to be plastic to allow adaptation and performance in response to the natural changing of environmental conditions including metabolism, stress and aging with clear implications for the understanding of tissue homeostasis, cell reprogramming and associated diseases.

The focus of our laboratory in the newly established Epigenetics program at KAUST (keep.kaust.edu.sa) is the investigation of the mechanistic role of the Epigenome and nonconding Genome in somatic cells and in particular the role of Polycomb Group Proteins (PcG), noncoding RNA, chromatin RNAi components and repetitive mobile DNA elements in cell identity, adaptation to stress, aging and reprogramming. As model system we use human primary cells and mouse animal models, with particular emphasis on skeletal muscles, neuromuscular diseases and cell reprogramming.

Current researches:

The Polycomb group proteins (PcG) control the stability and heritability of gene silencing via chromatin modification and nuclear architecture. However, PcG protein complexes have been associated with the promoters of active gene loci and their function in somatic and post-mitotic cells remains elusive. We are interested in investigating the role of PcG components in cell plasticity and adaptation in response to stress (Atrophic, Oxidative, Diet). In particular we use high-throughput genomics, protein complex biochemistry and metabolomics to unravel the role of PRC2 and ncRNA in mammalian post-mitotic skeletal muscle and neuronal cells.

Noncoding RNA plays an important role in epigenome structure and gene regulation.  However, little is known about chromatin protein complexes and the mechanisms that regulate ncRNA function. Our previous work performed in Drosophila revealed an unexpected functional link between RNAi components at promoters of active genes, Pol II pausing and stress response (Cernilogar et al, Nature 2011).​​

We are now interested in investigating the role of RNAi components in mammalian cells and in particular in nuclear architecture dynamics in somatic cell response to environmental stress. To this aim we combine protein complex biochemistry, genomics and imaging.

For more details, pelase refer to our laboratory’s main webs site: 

LAB TEAM MEMBERS

Principal Investigator, Professor of Bioscience

Contact Email: valerio.orlando@kaust.edu.sa

Research Technician

Main research project: The role of high order chromatin organization during muscle development in health and disease 

Contact email:  sabir.adroub@kaust.edu.sa

Research Scientist

Main research project: The role of chromatin-associated lncRNAs and RNAi components in gene regulation and chromatin organization

Contact email:  muhammad.shuaib@kaust.edu.sa

Postdoctoral Researcher

Main research project: Retrotransposable elements dynamics in adult stem cells multilineage differentiation, reprogramming, and plasticity.

Contact email:  arianna.mangiavacchi@kaust.edu.sa

Postdoctoral Researcher

Main research project: Role of PRC2-Ezh1 complex in modulating cell memory and epigenome plasticity during skeletal muscle cell differentiation process

Contact email: peng.liu@kaust.edu.sa

Postdoctoral Researcher

Main research project: L1 transposable elements analysis in progeria syndrome and cellular senescence.

Contact email:  francesco.dellavalle@kaust.edu.sa

Postdoctoral Researcher

Main research project: L1 retrotransposition in mammalian genome and its interaction with epigenome and transcriptome

Contact email:  mirko.celii@kaust.edu.sa 

PhD Student

Main research project: Main research project: Role of chromatin associated RNAi components in mammalian gene expression regulation

Contact email:  bodor.fallatah@kaust.edu.sa

PhD Student

Main research project: Identification of PRC2 associated RNA and their role in adaptation to stress

Contact email:  nadine.elsaid@kaust.edu.sa

PhD Student

Main research project: Role of Polycomb in circadian clock and metabiolic adaptation in skeletal muscle

Contact email:  seba.nadeef@kaust.edu.sa

Master (VSRP) Student

Main research project: L1 transposable elements analysis in progeria syndrome and cellular senescence

Contact email:  leila.abassi@kaust.edu.sa

Master (VSRP) Student

Master (VSRP) Student

PAST MEMBERS

Currently:

PhD University of Oxford

Currently:

ME Product Specialist Thermofisher

Currently:

PhD University of Edinburgh

Currently:

PhD Max Planck Freiburg

 

Currently:

Trinity Biotech Kansas City

Currently:

Lab Manager KAUST

Currently:

Postdoc University of Mainz

Currently:

Postdoc La Jolla

Currently:

Scientist, Johnson & Johnson Philadelphia

Currently:

Lab Manager University of Hong Kong

Currently:

Research Scientist KAUST