Blog

2019

Benoit Laurent, PhD

Department of Biochemistry
Université de Sherbrooke

Deciphering the epigenetic regulation of alternative splicing in neurons

Benoit Laurent, PhD, recipient of a 2019 Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award

Aging can reduce the birth of new neurons, a process called neurogenesis. The challenge is to prevent our neurons from dying in old age and keep growing new ones in order to stave off neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Laurent’s research project aims to understand the mechanisms promoting the generation of neurons.

Our DNA contains about 20,000 genes. The genome is like an enormous cookbook of 20,000 recipes. The book is difficult to read, therefore transcription factors (the “recipe-readers”) help to recognize the genes and allow the production of proteins essential for the birth of neurons.

If “recipe-readers” are faulty, neurogenesis suffers. Dr. laurent’s research focuses on a transcription factor called GATA3. The research team will aim to determine how GATA3 regulates the production of proteins. The findings will provide novel insights into mechanisms regulating the birth of neurons, and will help to develop new therapeutic strategies against neurodegenerative diseases.

Members of the Laurent lab performing mouse brain microdissection