Early development of multi-cellular organisms is a highly dynamic process requiring an
exquisite and tight control over establishment and maintenance of cellular identity.
Deregulation of these processes can lead to malformations or disease, and hence proper
understanding of both cellular differentiation and maintenance of cell fate will be relevant
in many different clinical settings. The underlying defects are often not understood and need
to be addressed to get more insight in the fundamental processes that are involved in normal
and abnormal development.
For tissues to be properly specified, expression profiles have to become more restricted
during development. Because every cell has the same DNA content this has to be determined
at a higher order level of regulation. This is in part achieved by chromatin: the complex
of DNA wrapped around an octamer of histones plus associated proteins. The histone-octamer
contains histones H2A, H2B, H3, and H4, which have tails that can be modified. In addition,
the DNA itself can be modified. The combination of modifications, sometimes also referred to
as the epigenome, is believed to determine the accessibility and/or the transcriptional
activity of DNA.
Polycomb group (PcG) proteins can change the chromatin structure, resulting in a repressive
effect on gene transcription. Using zebrafish as a model system, we aim to elucidate how PcG
proteins are involved in controlling tissue specification and maintenance. These studies
contribute to our understanding of mechanisms that are essential for normal and abnormal development.
Leonie Kamminga is assistant professor at the department of Molecular Biology. She obtained her PhD in Groningen. She did her post-doctoral training at the Hubrecht Insitute in Utrecht where she worked on the identification and characterization of a new class of germline specific small RNAs called piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). After obtaining a VENI grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), she started doing research on the epigenetic regulation of development. She moved to Nijmegen as a recipient of the RUNMC tenure-track research fellowship. She was recently awarded the VIDI grant and the MEERVOUD grant from NWO.
National and International Prizes & Awards
– 2013 MEERVOUD grant, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).
-2013 VIDI grant, Innovational Research Incentives Scheme, NWO.
-2011 Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre (RUNMC) tenure-track research fellowship.
-2011 Travel fellowship for the 5th Annual Exciting Biologies meeting “Cellular development: Biology at the interface” in Kobe, Japan.
-2008 VENI grant, Innovational Research Incentives Scheme, NWO.
-2004 Van Walree Fund of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).