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Zilberman Group

Epigenetics and Chromatin

Most of the information that passes across generations is encoded in the DNA sequence. However, there is increasing appreciation that cells and organisms also receive inherited information through other mediums, known collectively as epigenetic. The Zilberman group studies cytosine DNA methylation, a key epigenetic mechanism in plant and animal cells.

Cytosine methylation can carry epigenetic information because it is precisely copied when the DNA is replicated. Methylation regulates gene expression, and accurate reproduction of DNA methylation patterns during cell division is therefore essential for plant and animal development, efficient agriculture, and human health.

The enzymes that maintain DNA methylation must work within chromatin, and particularly to contend with nucleosomes – tight complexes of DNA and histone proteins.

The Zilberman group combines genetic, genomic, biochemical, and evolutionary approaches to understand the maintenance and function of DNA methylation within chromatin using the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana as the primary model. They also study a variety of other species to understand the complex evolution of eukaryotic DNA methylation.


Current Projects

Regulation of DNA methylation patterns by chromatin remodelers and linker histones | Influence of DNA methylation on nucleosome properties | Mathematical modeling of DNA methylation inheritance | Evolution of eukaryotic DNA methylation pathways | Epigenetic inheritance as a mechanism of phenotypic diversification in natural populations


Briffa A, Hollwey E, Shahzad Z, Moore JD, Lyons DB, Howard M, Zilberman D. 2023. Millennia-long epigenetic fluctuations generate intragenic DNA methylation variance in Arabidopsis populations. Cell Systems. 14(11), 953–967. View

Hollwey E, Briffa A, Howard M, Zilberman D. 2023. Concepts, mechanisms and implications of long-term epigenetic inheritance. Current Opinion in Genetics and Development. 81(8), 102087. View

Lyons DB, Briffa A, He S, Choi J, Hollwey E, Colicchio J, Anderson I, Feng X, Howard M, Zilberman D. 2023. Extensive de novo activity stabilizes epigenetic inheritance of CG methylation in Arabidopsis transposons. Cell Reports. 42(3), 112132. View

Choi J, Lyons DB, Zilberman D. 2021. Histone H1 prevents non-CG methylation-mediated small RNA biogenesis in Arabidopsis heterochromatin. eLife. 10, e72676. View

Rodrigues JA, Hsieh P-H, Ruan D, Nishimura T, Sharma MK, Sharma R, Ye X, Nguyen ND, Nijjar S, Ronald PC, Fischer RL, Zilberman D. 2021. Divergence among rice cultivars reveals roles for transposition and epimutation in ongoing evolution of genomic imprinting. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 118(29), e2104445118. View

View All Publications

ReX-Link: Daniel Zilberman


Since 2021 Professor, Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA)
2017-2021 Group Leader, John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK
2013-2017 Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley, USA
2007-2013 Assistant Professor, University of California, Berkeley, USA
2004-2007 Postdoc, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, USA
2004 PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Selected Distinctions

2017 ERC Consolidator Award
2016 HHMI-Simons Foundation Faculty Scholar
2009 Arnold and Mabel Beckman Young Investigator

Additional Information

Zilberman Group Website

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