We are exploring the environmental influences on the germline epigenome and their effects over multiple generations. We are taking advantage of various innovative models and genetic tools to detect chemical disruption of the germline chromatin and in particular of evolutionary conserved epigenetic marks such as histone modifications. Through the collection of assays developed in the Allard lab, we can investigate the multi- and trans-generational transmission of altered chromatin states originating from a single generational exposure. With this research, we not only identify the chemicals that affect the epigenome but also characterize their mechanism of action on epigenetic pathways.
The germline is the bridge between one generation and the next. As such, the survival of sexually reproducing species is dependent on several intricate cellular programs including germline stem cells homeostasis and meiotic differentiation. In the Allard laboratory, we mobilize the cytological and genetics advantages of mammalian stem cells as well as the nematode to understand the pathways that are disrupted by environmental exposures and lead to germline dysfunction. Our projects under this theme are: (a) The comparative analysis of BPA and of the BPA substitutes (found in “BPA-free” products) on reproduction. (b) The examination of the interplay between cholesterol metabolism, BPA exposure and germline function. And (c) the development and application of a high-throughput screening for the identification of reproductive toxicants.
How do we know that the science generated in the laboratory is being used for regulatory purposes? In collaboration with UCLA’s Sustainable Technology and Policy Program (STPP), we are examining the evolution of the field of Toxicology since the call in 2007 by major governmental agencies to include novel assays and technologies in chemical safety assessment (Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century). We developed a survey tool and asked more than 1,000 toxicologists in 195 countries about their perception of the use, barriers and drivers of alternative testing methods. This work allows us to capture the different currents of thought and the dynamics being a field in evolution.