Epigenetic repression and mobile DNA

Our group investigate the genetic and molecular properties of gene regulation processes showing trans-generational epigenetic inheritance.

Our study of the repression mechanism of a transposable element having invaded the Drosophila genome during the last century has allowed the discovery of master genomic sites which produce non-coding small RNAs called PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). These piRNAs are widely distributed in the animal kingdom and are responsible for transposable element repression in the germline. 

We have shown that piRNA repression establishment can show an inertia for several generations.

We have recently shown that these small RNAs can induce epigenetic conversion processes which are stable over dozens of generations and can be performed recurrently. Such a phenomenon, termed paramutation, was described previously mainly in plants. 

Our work attempts to analyse the functional and molecular properties of paramutation in Drosophila, the piRNA mediated repression during development, the de novo emergence of piRNA producing loci and the piRNA implication in gene regulation.