Altering gene expression regulation through targeted epigenetic changes (epigenetic editing)
Research project 23
Project researcher: Dr. Michal Lieberman-Lazarovich

DNA methylation is an epigenetic feature, a part of the gene regulation machinery. It was shown to be involved in several agronomically essential traits in crop plants, including enhanced yield in tomato. Therefore, directed editing of DNA methylation (either induction or removal) will potentially allow modification of these traits, for the prospects of utilizing epigenetic gene regulation for plant epi-breeding and trait improvement.

The tools recently developed for genome editing also enable targeted changes in DNA methylation, thus potentially altering gene expression. We aim to establish a system for DNA-methylation editing in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) – a model crop plant.

As proof of concept, we will use two well-characterized loci in tomato where changes in DNA methylation give rise to a visible, easily detectable phenotype. Catalytically de-activated Cas9 (dCas9) fused to a methyltransferase will be used to induce methylation at the loci under study. As the number of genes shown to be regulated by DNA methylation in crop plants is increasing, our technology would utilize these new targets towards epi-breeding – improving plant traits by epigenetic modifications.

מחקר מס' 23 – מיכל ליברמן לזרביץ'
Schematic representation of the DNA methylation editing approach.
Research project 23 - Dr. Michal Lieberman-Lazarovich
Wild-type tomato plants used in our experiments.
ד"ר מיכל ליברמן-לזרוביץ'

Dr. Michal Lieberman-Lazarovich
Project researcher

Plant Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Institute.

Email: michall@volcani.agri.gov.il

Phone: +972-3-9683465

Lab website

Research areas:

  • Biotic and abiotic stresses in Solanaceae; Focusing on high-temperature stress in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum).
  • Epigenetics for crop breeding (Epibreeding).

Research partners:

Dr. Golan Miller
Lab manager

Institution:
Plant Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Institute.

לירון עזרא

Liron Ezra
MSc student

Institution:
The Robert H Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

טל גורביץ'

Tal Gurevich
MSc student

Institution:
The Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar Ilan University, in collaboration with the Volcani Institute.