Head of Unit: Prof Alexandra BELAYEW
University of Mons“Pentagone” wing 3AAvenue du Champ de Mars 6B - 7000 MONS (BELGIUM)
Our 2 research projects relate to functional genomics, i.e. the study of proteins function encoded by a previously isolated unknown gene.
(1) HLTF (the Helicase-Like Transcription Factor): This protein has several functions: including remodelling chromatin, activating transcription and DNA repair. We think that cancer cells most probably get rid of this last function, either by inactivating the gene through hypermethylation or by expressing an inactive protein. Our research shows an over-expression of truncated forms of this protein in various cancers.
(2) DUX Genes (“double homeobox”) are inserted in a family of elements repeated several hundreds of times in human genomic DNA. They encode DNA-binding proteins whose function remains nevertheless unknown. A sub-family of these repeated elements contains DUX4 and DUX4c genes whose expression causes, in our opinion, muscular dystrophy (FSHD). We detected higher levels of these proteins in the muscles of patients. We showed that DUX4 was a transcription factor which disturbs the expression of many genes and is in this way a major actor of pathology.