Dr. Alexandre Laverré

I am a postdoctoral researcher curious about the molecular processes that underlie the differences between species. I’m particularly interested in the study of the mechanisms driving variations in gene expression in vertebrates.

The aim of my PhD was to conjointly analyse the evolution of cis-regulatory elements, such enhancers, and the evolution of gene expression in several vertebrate species. A major challenge of this work was to identify the associations between cis-regulatory sequences and gene promoters. I achieved this using chromosome conformation capture data, which allows an experimental measurement of the structure of cis-regulatory landscapes. I compared regulatory sequences, their organisation in genomes and their physical contacts with genes between several cell types and different vertebrate species. I was able to link the evolution of cis-regulatory landscapes and gene expression patterns, using gene expression measurements taken at various stages of human and mouse development. I also took part in the development of a bioinformatic tool that predicts functions of cis-regulatory elements based on the genes they contact.

In my post-doc, I am currently working on the development of a method to systematically detect signatures of positive selection in cis-regulatory sequences. I am working with mammalian whole genome alignments, experimental data of transcription factor binding and substitution models of molecular evolution. The aim is to assess the contribution of positive selection on these non-coding sequences to the evolution of gene expression patterns leading to phenotypic adaptation.

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