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Mise en évidence de nouveaux acteurs de la transdifférenciation naturelle : implication pour le maintien de l'identité cellulaire et impact de l'environnement

Abstract : Differentiated cells can be reprogrammed to adopt a different cell identity. The discovery of factors and mechanisms controlling cellular reprogramming is a fascinating scientific goal that will shed light on the mechanisms controlling cell identity maintenance. Our laboratory studies the natural identity switch (or transdifferentiation, TD) of an epithelial rectal cell (called Y) into a motor neuron (called PDA) in Caenorhabditis elegans. In worm mutants for the gene lin-15A (isolated in a genetic screen performed in the laboratory), the Y cell does not initiate the Y reprogramming : Y stays rectal. This protein appears in the Y nucleus just before the beginning of the Y TD and plays a key role in the process initiation. LIN-15A binds DNA and its zinc finger domain (THAP-like) is essential for the initiation of Y reprogramming. Inactivation of some genes that are involved in cell identity maintenance allow a partial or strong suppression of the Y reprogramming defect due to lin-15A mutation. These genes belong to a group called synMuv B and those inducing the strongest lin- 15A phenotype suppression are all linked to the retinoblastoma (RB) pathway. In the literature, all the mutants that are PDA defect suppressors in lin-15A mutant show a switch of intestinal cell identity. Some mutants in starvation–response genes in worms show a loss of intestinal cell identity maintenance very similar to the one observed in synMuv B mutants. Interestingly, we observed that starvation (in 1st larval stage or dauer stage) induces a strong drop of the PDA defect in lin-15A mutant. Different studies suggest diapause induced by starvation trigger a loss of somatic cell identity maintenance (and possibly in intestinal cells), that could allow Y to start the reprogramming despite the lack of lin-15A, even it is a key factor to release a break and initiate the TD. In summary, my results show the cell transdifferentiation depends on a molecular key, LIN-15A, that is needed, just priorto TD initiation, to release a cell maintenance lock to allow a cell to undergo cell identity switch. My work opens the possibility that the worm physiologic and metabolic state influences cell identity maintenance. In the future, how this state is perceived has to be determined, in which cells and how this information is transmitted to Y to finally influence its plasticity.
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Marie-Charlotte Morin. Mise en évidence de nouveaux acteurs de la transdifférenciation naturelle : implication pour le maintien de l'identité cellulaire et impact de l'environnement. Génomique, Transcriptomique et Protéomique [q-bio.GN]. Université de Strasbourg, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016STRAJ010⟩. ⟨tel-02917925⟩

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