During embryogenesis stem and progenitor cells of the developing organism become progressively restricted in their developmental potential through successive steps of lineage specification to establish the multiple different cell types of an adult organism. Research interests of the Arnold lab centre around the questions a) how cell lineage identities are first established during embryogenesis, b) how lineage commitment is permanently fixed throughout a lifetime involving chromatin and transcription factor crosstalk, and c) how lineage identities eventually can be altered in physiological or pathological conditions.
Our main research focus lies on the first strictly embryonic cell lineage choice when pluripotent cells segregate into primary cell lineages of either mesoderm and endoderm (ME), or neuroectoderm (NE). These cell lineage decisions are regulated by instructive signals, transcription factors and underlying chromatin. To understand the rapid process of cell lineage specification we aim for unravelling the genome wide regulation of cell type specific transcriptional programs. Here, we analyse the dynamic reciprocal interactions of transcription factors with the rapidly changing underlying chromatin landscape. Current projects aim for resolving how initial changes in chromatin accessibility and histone modifications are transformed into permanent, stable states to ensure robust cell lineage identities.
In our research we use a wide variety of state-of-the-art technologies, including advanced genome editing, innovative stem cell based embryoid model systems, high-throughput genomic and chromatin analyses technologies, and live-imaging.
As long-term vision we aim for a comprehensive view of the molecular regulation that confers robust cell identity and that could serve as entry point for pharmacological intervention in cases where changes of physiological are pathological cell identity states are desired.