Shelby Blythe Developmental control of chromatin structure & embryo pattern formation

Research Interests

At any moment, the developmental state of a cell is reflected directly in chromatin structure, and the organization of this structure changes rapidly during embryogenesis in response to developmental cues. Yet, the mechanistic underpinnings of these transitions in chromatin structure, particularly in response to developmental signals, is poorly understood. My laboratory uses the Drosophila embryo as a model system to study the mechanisms that establish the chromatin architecture of pluripotent embryonic cells from an unpatterned ground state. Our goal is to understand both the molecular determinants for specification of ‘active’ versus ‘repressed’ chromatin, and also how developmental signals provide information to alter chromatin states over time. We combine the power of Drosophila genetics with genomic methods for interrogating chromatin accessibility and occupancy, in addition to developing confocal imaging approaches for quantitative assessment of chromatin state.

Current projects include measuring changes in chromatin accessibility status in the absence of all developmental patterning cues; functional studies on transcription factors such as Bicoid that are associated with chromatin modifying activities; genetic screening for mutants that disrupt the pluripotent chromatin state; and development of optical tools for direct assessment of local chromatin accessibility status in real time.

Selected Publications

Zygotic pioneer factor activity of Odd-paired/Zic is necessary for late function of the Drosophila segmentation network. Soluri IV, Zumerling LM, Payan Parra OA, Clark EG, and Blythe SA. eLife. 2020 April 29;9:e53916.

Rapid Dynamics of Signal-Dependent Transcriptional Repression by Capicua. Keenan SE, Blythe SA, Marmion RA, Djabrayan NJ-V, Wieschaus EF, and Shvartsman SY. Developmental Cell. 2020 March 23;52(6):794-801.e4.

Concentration dependent chromatin states induced by the bicoid morphogen gradient. Hannon CE, Blythe SA, and Wieschaus EF. eLife. 2017 September 11;6:e28275.

Establishment and maintenance of heritable chromatin structure during early Drosophila embryogenesisBlythe SA and Wieschaus EF. eLife. 2016 November 23;5:e20148.

Zygotic Genome Activation Triggers the DNA Replication Checkpoint at the Midblastula TransitionBlythe SA and Wieschaus EF. Cell. 2015 March 12;160(6):1169-1181.

View all publications by Shelby Blythe listed in the National Library of Medicine (PubMed). Current and former IBiS students in blue.