TRANSCRIPTION, ENVIRONMENT and CANCER (TREC)
Cancers become aggressive when some cells fall into a stereotyped genetic program reminiscent of the “epithelial-mesenchymal transition” (EMT). The mesenchymal state is inherited from ancestral unicellular evolutionary stages. In metazoans, it acquired functions in development and wound healing. Tumoral EMT involves several hundred genes in a coordinated manner, which collectively generate the metastatic phenotype (cellular individualization, exacerbated proliferation, migration and tissue infiltration, switches in biosynthetic and energetic metabolisms etc). The EMT is a remarkable example of global gene expression switch associated to genome-wide epigenetic changes. We are studying the transcriptional mechanisms underlying EMT involved in breast cancer aggravation, and their sensitivity to environmental conditions.
Our research is divided into several projects:
Transcriptional gene expression regulation and alterations in cancer
Basic transcriptional regulation mechanisms. Mechanisms specifically involved in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, particularly in breast cancer context involving estrogen receptor.
Physical and chemical environmental agents impact on gene expression
- Physical: Impact of electromagnetic radiations on gene expression and human health.
- Chemical: Detection and impact of endocrine disrupters, including estrogen-mimetic compounds.
- Epigenetic memory: Structural and dynamic epigenetic mechanisms involved in the long-term effects of certain exposures.
- Design of synthetic reporter/memory devices. For amplifying and recording low and transient exposures to physical and chemical agents.
Figure: Typical cell phenotype changes associated to EMT