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The Role of Pioneer Factors Zelda and Grainyhead at the Maternal-to-Zygotic Transition (Melissa Harrison)

Episode 89

November 30, 2022

In this episode of the Epigenetics Podcast, we caught up with Melissa Harrison from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to talk about her work on the “Pioneer” Transcription Factors - Zelda and Grainyhead - and their role at the maternal-to-zygotic transition.

The Harrison lab studies how differentiation and development are driven by coordinated changes in gene expression. To do this, the targets of choice are the transcription factors Zelda and Grainyhead that bind to the genome at specific and crucial points in development and differentiation. These specialised transcription factors have the ability to bind to DNA in the context of nucleosomes which defines regulatory elements and leads to subsequent binding of additional classical transcription factors. These properties allow pioneer factors to act at the top of gene regulatory networks and control developmental transitions.