29/05/2015 - 12:00 - Sala Marie Curie

What a natural reprogramming event tells us on the mechanisms underlying cellular plasticity

Scientific sessions, PRBB CRG Conferences

Sophie Jarriault

Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire. Strasbourg, France

Sophie Jarriault, from the Institut de génétique et de biologie moléculaire et cellulaire in Strasbourg, France, uses the C.elegans nematode worm as a model to understand how differentiated cells can change their identity, studying cellular reprogramming in vivo at the single cell level. She is also assessing what key aspects are shared between different cell reprogramming events.

She has been invited by Thomas Graf (CRG).


Whereas postmitotic somatic cellular identity is generally a stable feature of multicellular organisms, natural interconversions between functionally distinct somatic cell types (aka transdifferentiation or Td) have been reported in species as diverse as jellyfish and mice. In some cases, Td events occur with remarkable precision and efficiency. For example, our laboratory has recently shown that a rectal cell suddenly looses its differentiated identity and is reprogrammed into a motoneuron with invariant precision, in 100% of the wild type Caenorhabditis elegans animals (n > 2 200). This fascinating Td event proceeds through discrete steps: dedifferentiation and then re-differentiation into the new cell type, similarly to vertebrate examples of Td, such as newt lens regeneration. As the molecular events that ensure such invariance are poorly understood, the efficiency and reproducibility observed in this defined reprogramming event represent a powerful and as yet unexploited avenue in which to probe mechanisms ensuring robust cell conversion.