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Vincenzo’s group studies polycomb proteins, epigenetic silencers. Discovered in the fruit fly to control body-plan formation, polycombs are also found in mammals, where their diverse influence ranges from X-chromosome inactivation to controlling cell proliferation. Polycombs affect stem cells, gene silencing, genome programming and at least some kinds of genetic imprinting. Antagonistic to their influence trithorax proteins, activators of chromatin, protect genes from polycomb silencing.