Who am I?
I am currently a graduate student in M.Madan Babu's group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK (since October 2011). I am an alumni of the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan from which graduated in June 2011, with a Master of science in systems and synthetic biology prepared at the University of Evry in partnership with the Genopole in France (mSSB master). My PhD work is jointly funded by the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, the Knox Trinity Studentship and the Medical Research Council.
My personal fundamental scienfitic motivation is to understand how complex processes are spatially and temporally orchestrated in cells, and more specifically to understand the extent to which cells can afford perturbations and randomness in those processes. Many scientific problems would fall in such a general scheme, but I currently have a particular interest in three distinct questions:
- At any given time, the inner cell is the place of hundreds of thousands of physical associations between proteins, and most of cellular functions are to be mediated within this intricate pattern of interactions. However, the environment in which these interactions occur is compact, confined and crowded. This implies that cells must be able to regulate the abundance of their proteins, in order - at least - to maintain their essential functions. Not too much, not too less: each protein abundance might fall in an "compromised" interval which minimizes promiscuous interactions but maximizes affinity between functional partners. How does such proteome-wide regulation of protein abundance happen? at which cost?
- Understanding the importance of intrinsic variability in gene expression and the mechanisms of its control is another fundamental question. Why, populations of clonal cells maintained in unvarying conditions, some genes will systematically be variable in their expression from a cell to another, while others will remain expressed in very similar quantities across the population? What is the functional impact of such phenomenon (known as "noise"), and what are the evolutionary pressures that may or may not influence it?
- Finally, the coordination and the control of membrane trafficking pathways is of particular interest. In the general case, intracellular membrane trafficking is achieved with a sufficient robustness to transfer material and information in a fast and controlled manner, and pertubations of such system are intimately linked to many dramatic diseases (notably cancers and neurodevelopmental disorders). It is to date very difficult to understand how membrane identity and selectivity of trafficking pathways is achieved. That said, how is the expression and the regulation of motor proteins coordinated at the scale of an entire cell seems to be a challenging yet reasonable question to investigate in present days.