mcgraw serge (2) 

Serge McGraw, PhD

Assistant professor-researcher
Centre de recherche du CHU Sainte-Justine et Université de Montréal
Department Obstétrique-Gynécologie, Faculté de médecine
3175, Côte Sainte-Catherine, office #A733
Montréal (Québec)  H3T 1C5
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Phone: 514 345-4931 ext 4268                                  


Research interests:

Epigenetic Dysregulation and Embryo Development 

Recent results:

Serge McGraw's principal research interests are focused on the harmful developmental outcomes caused by epigenetic instabilities arising from an interruption in DNA methylation maintenance during early embryogenesis. His laboratory aims at understanding how, during embryo development, perturbations in the embryo epigenetic program may be involved in the occurrence of prenatal or after birth developmental disorders.

Epigenetic Modifications and Embryonic Development

Epigenetic modifications are small chemical tags which can be added directly on the genome (DNA), or on proteins (histones) that package DNA within chromosomes. These various modifications provide means by which a genetic sequence may be functionally active or inactive at a specific time during cell development, without altering the DNA sequence. During early development, embryonic cells divide and grow according to a program of their own, driven by a major overhaul of epigenetic modifications. We believe that any interference occurring during the establishment of this embryonic epigenetic program may increase the vulnerability to deploy various developmental disorders.

Epigenetic Dysregulation and Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Children

In the past few decades, there has been an increase in neurodevelopmental disorders (ex: autism, attention deficit and learning disorders, developmental and intellectual delays) in children. According to numerous studies, exposing the embryo or fetus to harmful environmental insults (ex: poor diet, chemicals, drugs, alcohol) during pregnancy is one of the main causes of this increase. Since these insults can alter the epigenetic landscape, which are heavily reworked in the early embryo, we believe that embryonic epigenetic dysregulation caused by these insults could alter the normal developmental program of the central nervous system and lead to the upsurge of neurodevelopmental disorders. However, essential questions remain unanswered: which epigenetic modifications are likely to be dysregulated in early embryos; which epigenetic regulators, when dysfunctional, could lead to neurodevelopmental disorders; how does epigenetic dysregulation evolve from its embryonic origin to its emergence as a neurodevelopmental disorder after birth? To investigate these questions, Serge McGraw and his research team are using in vitro stem cell models as well as in vivo animal models that contain various epigenetic dysregulation events orchestrated in the embryonic epigenetic program. Through neurotoxic environmental factors and genetic manipulations, these models will provide normal and perturbed epigenetic contexts to finely dissect the epigenetic dysregulation mechanisms associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. His research will significantly deepen our understanding of how early embryonic epigenetic dysregulations of specific brain-related programs may lead to adverse outcomes in children. Understanding the nature of epigenetic dysregulation throughout brain development is crucial if we hope to someday design potent and selective epigenetic treatments for brain disorders.


 Siklenka K, Erkek S, Godmann M, Lambrot R, McGraw S, Lafleur C , Cohen T , Xia J , Suderman M , Hallett M, Trasler J, Peters AH, Kimmins S. (2015). Disruption of histone methylation in developing sperm impairs offspring health transgenerationally. Science. 350(6261).

McGraw S, Zhang JX, Farag M, Chan D, Caron M, Konermann C, Oakes CC, Mohan KN, Plass C, Pastinen T, Bourque G, Chaillet JR, Trasler JM. 2014. Transient DNMT1 suppression reveals hidden heritable marks in the genome. Nucleic Acids Res. 2015 Feb 18;43(3):1485-97. doi: 10.1093/nar/gku1386.

 Shaffer B, McGraw S, Xiao S, Chan D, Trasler JM, Chaillet JR. 2014. The Dnmt1 intrinsically disordered domain regulates genomic methylation during development. Genetics. 2015 Feb;199(2):533-41. doi: 10.1534/genetics.114.173609.

 Fortier AL, McGraw S (co-first), Lopes FL, Niles KM, Landry M, Trasler JM. 2014. Modulation of imprinted gene expression following superovulation. Mol Cell Endocrinol. May 5;388(1-2):51-7.

 Magnus N, Garnier D, Meehan B, McGraw S, Lee TH, Caron M, Bourque G, Milsom C, Jabado N, Trasler JM, Pawlinski R, Mackman N, Rak J. 2014. Tissue factor expression provokes escape from tumor dormancy and leads to genomic alterations. PNAS. Mar 4;111(9):3544-9.

 McGraw S, Shojaei Saadi HA, Robert C. 2013. Meeting the methodological challenges of studying the embryonic epigenome. Mol Hum Reproduction. Dec;19(12):809-27.

 McGraw S, Oakes CC, Martel J, Cirio MC, de Zeeuw P, Mak W, Barlolomei MS, Chaillet JR, Trasler JM. 2013. Loss of DNMT1o disrupts imprinted X chromosome inactivation and accentuates placental defects in females. Plos Genetics. Nov;9(11):e100387.

 Garner JL, Niles KM, McGraw S, Yeh JR, Cushnie DW, Hermo L, Nagano MC, Trasler JM. 2013. Stability of DNA methylation patterns in spermatogonia under conditions of MTHFR deficiency and methionine supplementation. Biol Reprod. Nov 27;89(5):125.

 Vigneault C, Gravel C, Vallée M, McGraw S, Sirard MA. 2009. Unveiling the bovine embryo transcriptome during the maternal to embryonic transition. Reproduction. Feb;137(2):245-57.

 Vigneault C, McGraw S, Sirard MA. 2009. Spatio-temporal expression of transcriptional regulators in concert with the maternal to embryonic transition during bovine in vitro embryogenesis. Reproduction. Jan;137(1):13-21. Citations: 10, facteur d'impact: 3.55

 McGraw S, Morin G, Vigneault C, Leclerc P, Sirard MA. 2007. Investigation of MYST4 histone acetyltransferase and its involvement in mammalian gametogenesis. BMC Dev Biol. Nov 2;7(1)123.

 McGraw S, Vigneault C, Sirard MA. 2007. Temporal expression of factors involved in chromatin remodeling and in gene regulation during early bovine in vitro embryo development. Reproduction. Mar;133(3):597-608.

 McGraw S, Vigneault C, Tremblay K, Sirard MA. 2006. Characterization of linker histone H1FOO during bovine in vitro embryo development. Mol Reprod Dev. 73(6):692-9.

 Tremblay K, Vigneault C, McGraw S, Morin G, Sirard MA. 2006. Identification and characterization of a novel bovine oocyte-specific secreted protein gene. Gene. 375:44-53.

 Tremblay K, Vigneault C, McGraw S, Sirard MA. 2005. Expression of cyclin B1 messenger RNA isoforms and initiation of cytoplasmic polyadenylation in the bovine oocyte. Biol Reprod. 72(4):1037-44.

 Vigneault C, McGraw S, Massicotte L, Sirard MA. 2004. Transcription factor expression patterns in bovine in vitro-derived embryos prior to maternal-zygotic transition. Biol Reprod. 70(6):1701-9.

 McGraw S, Robert C, Massicotte L, Sirard MA. 2003. Quantification of histone acetyltransferase and histone deacetylase transcripts during early bovine embryo development. Biol Reprod. 68:383-9.

 Robert C, McGraw S, Massicotte L, Pravetoni M, Gandolfi F, Sirard MA. 2002. Quantification of housekeeping transcript levels during the development of bovine preimplantation embryos. Biol Reprod. 67(5):1465-72.

 Robert C, Hue I, McGraw S, Gagne D, Sirard MA. 2002. Quantification of cyclin B1 and p34(cdc2) in bovine cumulus-oocyte complexes and expression mapping of genes involved in the cell cycle by complementary DNA microarrays. Biol Reprod. 67(5):1456-64.

 Chapitres de livres

 McGraw S & Trasler JM. 2013. Oocyte epigenetics and the risks for imprinting disorders associated with assisted reproduction. Biology & Pathology of the Oocyte 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press. Online Publication October 10th.

 Robert C, McGraw S, Gagné D, Sirard MA. 2003. Library subtraction and microarray screening to isolate oocyte specific transcripts in the cow. Mammalian Embryo Genomics, Ed: OECD: 57-66.


Prix et distinctions :

  • New Collaboration Grant. Réseau Québécois en Reproduction (RQR). 2015
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship. The Montreal Children’s Hospital Research Institute. 2007-2012
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship. Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec. 2009-2011
  •       Postdoctoral Fellowship. Fonds Québécois de la Recherche Nature et Technologies. 2007-2009
  • PhD. Fellowship. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. 2003-2005
  • PhD. Scholarship. Laval University. 2002-2004
  • PhD. work-study Scholarship. Laval University. 2002
  • 1st prize, oral presentation. Breakthroughs in Reproduction and Development Research Day of the Center for the Study of Reproduction at McGill. 2014.
  • 1st prize, oral presentation. Breakthroughs in Reproduction and Development Research Day of the Center for the Study of Reproduction at McGill. 2013.
  • Short-term visiting scientist award. German Cancer Research Center. Heidelberg, Germany. 2011
  • 1st prize, poster presentation. Chromatin: Structure & Function Meeting. Aruba. 2011
  •       Travel award. Réseau Québécois en Reproduction. 2011
  •       1st prize, oral presentation. McGill Human Genetics Postdoctoral Research Day. 2011
  •       Travel award. Montreal Children’s Hospital Research Institute. 2009
  •       Travel award. Réseau Québécois en Reproduction. 2009
  •       Travel award. Center for the Study of Reproduction. 2009
  •       Travel award. Montreal Children’s Hospital Research Institute. 2008
  • PhD honor roll. Faculty of Graduate Studies, Laval University. 2007
  •       Travel award. Centre de Recherche en Biologie de la Reproduction. 2004
  • Travel award. Centre de Recherche en Biologie de la Reproduction. 2001