In this episode of the Epigenetics Podcast, we caught up with Dr. Wolf Reik, Director at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, UK, to talk about his work on the role of epigenetic factors in cellular reprogramming.

In the beginning of his research career, Dr. Wolf Reik worked on cellular reprogramming during embryogenesis. Epigenetic marks like DNA methylation or post-translational modifications of histone tails are removed and reprogrammed during embryogenesis, which can limit the amount of epigenetic information that can be passed on to future generations. However, this process is sometimes defective, which can lead to transgenerational epigenetic inheritance.

More recently, the laboratory of Dr. Wolf Reik has done pioneering work in the emerging field of single-cell experimental methods. The Reik lab developed a single-cell reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (scRRBS) approach to investigate DNA methylation at single-cell resolution. They also developed an integrated multi-omics approach called single-cell nucleosome, methylation, and transcription sequencing (scNMT-Seq) to map chromatin accessibility, DNA methylation, and RNA expression at the same time during the onset of gastrulation in mouse embryos.

In this interview, we discuss the story behind how Dr. Wolf Reik almost discovered 5-hmC and how he later moved into developing single-cell methods like scRRBS and single-cell multi-omics approaches.



  • W. Reik, A. Collick, … M. A. Surani (1987) Genomic imprinting determines methylation of parental alleles in transgenic mice (Nature) DOI: 10.1038/328248a0
  • W. Dean, F. Santos, … W. Reik (2001) Conservation of methylation reprogramming in mammalian development: aberrant reprogramming in cloned embryos (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.241522698
  • Miguel Constância, Myriam Hemberger, … Wolf Reik (2002) Placental-specific IGF-II is a major modulator of placental and fetal growth (Nature) DOI: 10.1038/nature00819
  • Adele Murrell, Sarah Heeson, Wolf Reik (2004) Interaction between differentially methylated regions partitions the imprinted genes Igf2 and H19 into parent-specific chromatin loops (Nature Genetics) DOI: 10.1038/ng1402
  • Irene Hernando-Herraez, Brendan Evano, … Wolf Reik (2019) Ageing affects DNA methylation drift and transcriptional cell-to-cell variability in mouse muscle stem cells (Nature Communications) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-12293-4
  • Tobias Messmer, Ferdinand von Meyenn, … Wolf Reik (2019) Transcriptional Heterogeneity in Naive and Primed Human Pluripotent Stem Cells at Single-Cell Resolution (Cell Reports) DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.12.099


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