Research interests

  • Regulation of mRNA translation in placental cells
  • Placental cell dysfunction during infections
  • Functional genomics

The main interest of my laboratory is to investigate the molecular underpinnings of translational control (i.e. regulation of mRNA translational efficiency) upon placental cell exposure to environmental stressors such as inflammatory mediators and infectious agents. We and others have shown that translational control provides immune cells with a rapid response to external triggers or cues without de novo mRNA synthesis. However, how specific changes in mRNA translation influence normal and altered placental functions remains largely unexplored. To begin addressing this, we investigate the impact of dysregulated mRNA translational efficiency in the placenta during congenital toxoplasmosis, a vertically transmitted infection that results in serious birth defects or abortion. We postulate that aberrant mRNA translation in infected placental cell populations contributes to alter gene expression programs required for normal embryo implantation, placental development and function. To test our hypothesis, we combine various “OMICS” approaches (i.e. RNA-seq, RIBO-seq and proteomics) in human villous and extravillous trophoblasts and human placental explants, an ex vivo model that mimics the architecture of this organ in culture. In parallel, we conduct in silico analyses and mechanistic studies in engineered trophoblast cell lines and placental explants to define the signaling pathways and trans-acting factors leading to translational repression or activation of specific transcripts. Altogether, these studies will provide insight into the role of translational control in placental function during normal and diseased states.

Members of the laboratory

Visnu Chaparro, MSc
PhD student

Andres Diez Mejia, MSc
PhD student

Aurore Lebourg, MSc
PhD student

Louis-Philippe Leroux, PhD
Research Associate