The team spotted increasing H3 levels in the systems of C. elegans as these roundworm embryos grow. These H3 levels restricted the potential or plasticity of their pluripotent cells. Histones in pluripotent cells switch certain genes on and off to commit to specific cell types. Altering the worm’s genome to lower the amount of H3, they were able to successfully prolong the window of pluripotency which normally ceases in older embryos. The normal path of development has been changed to adopt alternative paths of cell fate.
These findings came from the gene-editing technique CRISPR. This technique aided the team in tracking the roles of two histones that were active as the worm’s offspring developed. However, further research is needed to focus more on how histones might also underlie embryogenesis in multicellular organisms.