The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 65: 163 - 169 (2021)

Vol 65, Issue 1-2-3

Special Issue: Developmental Biology in Ibero-America - Part 1

Epigenetic control of cell fate - an interview with Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla

Published: 26 August 2020

Jesús Chimal-Monroy*,1 and Diana Escalante-Alcalde*,2

1Departamento de Medicina Genómica y Toxicología Ambiental, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas and 2División de Neurociencias, Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad de México, Mexico


Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla’s research is focused on how cell fate arises from a single-cell embryo, the fertilized egg or zygote. After the initial divisions, cell potency becomes restricted, originating the first cell lineage fates. She studies how epigenetic information controls transitions in cell identity and cellular reprogramming during embryonic development. Currently, she is the founding Director of the Institute of Epigenetics and Stem Cells, Helmholtz Centre, and Professor of Stem Cell Biology at the Ludwigs Maximilians University in Munich. In this interview, Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla talks to us about her beginnings in the biology field in Mexico. She also tells us about how she became interested in the control of genome regulation within the nucleus during the transition from totipotency to pluripotency and how the control of gene regulation and chromatin organization during the early stages of cell fate decision in the one-cell embryo occurs. She considers that science has no borders; visiting Mexico gives her the possibility to discuss her work with colleagues and the new generation of students trained in Mexico.


totipotency, pluripotency, early embryo, epigenetics, chromatin architecture

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