Epigenetics and Chromatin


In eukaryotes, DNA is compacted into chromatin, of which the basic unit is the nucleosome. Nucleosomes are comprised of two copies of each of four proteins histones wrapped by 147 base pairs of DNA. Compacting DNA allows the molecule to fit into cells in an orderly fashion, but makes DNA less accessible to cellular machinery such as transcription factors. To overcome this difficulty, histone post-translational modifications and histone variants maintain chromatin in a dynamic state regulating its accessibility. Thus, genes that are required for cellular processes can be expressed or repressed at the appropriate time. Our research focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which chromatin and its modifications regulate cellular processes. We have three main areas of investigation: the analysis of post-translational modifications of histones before they are incorporated in the chromatin, the role of the viral chromatin in the replication of the Hepatitis B Virus, and the characterization of the epigenetic modifications during the differentiation of T lymphocytes.


Research Head: Alejandra Loyola

Research Assistants: Tatiana Cruces • Claudia Espinoza • Danitza Silva

Post-doctoral Fellows: Francisco Saavedra • Simon Beard • Jose Manuel Jimenez


National Collaborations:
• Dr. Iván Alfaro (Universidad del Desarrollo)
• Dra. Andrea Calixto (Universidad Mayor)
• Dr. Rodrigo Pacheco (Fundación Ciencia & Vida)
• Dra. Raquel Quatrini (Fundación Ciencia & Vida)
• Dr. Mario Rosemblatt (Fundación Ciencia & Vida)
• Dr. Rodrigo Villanueva (Fundación Ciencia & Vida)

International Collaborations:
• Dr. Genevieve Almouzni (Institut Curie, Paris, France)
• Dr. Eric Campos (University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)
• Dra. Thelma Escobar (Washington University)
• Dr. Axel Imhof (Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München, Munich, Germany)
• Dr. Danny Reinberg (Howard Hughes Medical Institute / NYU Langone School of Medicine, New York, USA)


Juan Hormazábal (Former Ph.D. student, 2016-2020)

Pilar Castillo (Former undergraduate student, 2015-2019)

Rodrigo Flores (Former post-doctoral fellow, 2018-2019)

Francisca Álvarez Astudillo (Former undergraduate student and Ph.D. student, 2009-2019)
Post-doctoral fellow at Universidad San Sebastian, Chile

Pía Vidal (Former post-doctoral fellow, 2018-2019)
Assistant professor at Universidad Catolica de la Santisima Concepcion

Francisca Muñoz Garrido (Former undergraduate student and Ph.D. student, 2009-2018)

Sebastián Marty Lombardi (Former undergraduate student, 2015-2017)
AG Siemens, Pharmakologisches Institut. Universität Heidelberg

Daniel Garrido Norambuena (Former Master degree student 2014-2017)
Biochemist at Laboratorio Quimica Clínica Especializada.

Sergio Hernández Tapia (Former Ph.D. student, 2013-2017)
Post-doctoral fellow at University of Marseille

Jocelyn Neira (Former Ph.D. student 2013-2017)
Head of the Flow Cytometer Facility at UNAB

Cristian Doñas Cuadra (Former undergraduate student and Ph.D. student, 2012-2017)
Post-doctoral fellow at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Lorena Rubio Quiroz (Former Master degree student 2013-2016)

Paola Merino (Former post-doctoral fellow, 2015)
Post-doctoral fellow at Emory University

Yvo Flores León (Former Master degree student 2013-2015)
Research assistant at INIA

Carlos Rivera Alvarez (Former Master degree student 2013-2015)
Ph.D. student at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile/Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Germán Púas Villega (Former undergraduate student, 2012-2014)
Master of Philosophy, Universidad Santiago de Chile

Macarena Fritz Kelly (Former Ph.D. student, 2009-2013)

César Díaz Célis (Former post-doctoral fellow, 2012)
Post-doctoral fellow at HHMI/University of California

Valentina Ugalde Tagle (Former Master degree student 2009-2011)
Research assistant at Fundacion Ciencia & Vida