BIST Colloquium Series 2020-21: Arnau Sebé

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Evolution of animal cell type programmes

by Arnau Sebé of CRG


A fundamental question in biology is how the diverse cell types observed in a multicellular organism are encoded by a single genome sequence, and which genome regulatory mechanisms orchestrate the deployment and maintenance of cell type-specific transcriptional programmes. However, the diversity and evolutionary dynamics of cell type programmes remain almost unexplored beyond selected tissues in a few species. Similarly, little is known about the emergence of complex genome regulatory mechanisms that support cell type-specific programmes and cellular memory.

In recent years, the development of advanced functional genomics technologies has revolutionised the study of cell type and genome regulation, even at single-cell resolution. This opens the way to the comparative analysis of genome regulation in species that represent diverse levels of biological complexity: ranging from unicellular temporal differentiation and simple multicellular behaviors (e.g. in some protistan eukaryotes), through loosely integrated and limitedly diversified ensembles of cell types (e.g. in early-branching animals), to organisms with elaborate tissue and bodyplan organisation (e.g in bilaterian animals).

In our group, we combine high-throughput epigenomics and single-cell genomics technologies with advanced computational methods in order to dissect and compare cell type programmes and genome regulatory architectures in phylogenetically diverse systems.


I did my PhD under the supervision of Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo at University of Barcelona (Spain), investigating the origin of animal multicellularity from a functional genomics perspective. Then, I spent four years at the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel), working with Amos Tanay on single-cell genomics of animal cell type diversity. Since 2019, I am a Group Leader at the CRG.


The colloquium is part of the BIST Master of Research curriculum but is also open and free for anyone interested in participating.


Register now


The session will be hosted through Zoom online conference application. If you have not used this platform previously, you will be prompted to download the software to access the meeting (the process is automatic and does not require more than one minute).


Next colloquia will be:


March 22 – Aurelio Juste of IFAE

April 12 – Lorenzo Albertazzi of IBEC

May 04 – Cecilia de Carvalho of ICN2

May 31 – Núria Lopez of IRB Barcelona

June 14 – Ana Janic of DCEXS

July 12 – Stefan Wieser of ICFO