Babraham Institute and Lucy Cavendish College
Gene-environment Interactions, Stress Response, Heat Shock Proteins, C. elegans, Epigenetics, Ageing
I am a Research Associate in the Casanueva lab at the Babraham Institute and I am using the nematode C. elegans as a model organism.
I am interested in understanding inter-individual variability in stress response gene expression and itsconsequences on physiology in C. elegans. Lifespan of individuals is highly variable across species, including C. elegans. However, this variation cannot be attributed to genetic differences in C. elegans, as they are clones. I have been focusing on stress response gene expression, as they are known to play a role in longevity. To study gene expression at the single-worm level, I have developed a high-throughput method to accurately quantify biological variability in the expression of hundreds of genes in single worms. To investigate the consequences of such variability in vivo, I have been using fluorescent reporters. With these methods, I have identified stress response genes that are highly variable between worms, even in the absence of stress, and found that this variability has consequences on metabolism.
Interactions between genes and the environment have always fascinated me. I studied biology at the University Pierre and Marie Curie and Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. During my master, I discovered C. elegans as a model organism, while studying stress responses and molecular chaperones in the Morimoto lab at Northwestern University in Chicago. I did my second year of master in the Bessereau lab at Ecole Normale Superieure, where I used powerful genome-engineering tools in C. elegans. One aspect that has always intrigued me regarding stress responses, is their role in the absence of “apparent” stress, for instance during development and ageing. Therefore, during my PhD, I returned to the Morimoto lab in Chicago to study the role of the stress transcription factor Heat Shock Factor 1 during development. I then moved to Cambridge to study inter-individual variability in stress response gene expression during ageing.