Amandine Molliex, PhD, "When genes play hide and seek”

Fellow 2017 L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science, Amandine Molliex is trying to solve the mystery of the function and role of the "senataxin" protein.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Charcot’s disease, which is a neurodegenerative disease, currently affects 5,000 to 7,000 patients in France(1). 

In medical research, some neurodegenerative diseases, as well as different childhood cancers, are linked to the production of a particular protein called ’senataxin’. The biological function and the role of this protein remain a mystery. 

This is the subject of the research that Amandine Molliex, a postdoctoral student at the Institut Jacques Monod at the Université Paris-Diderot is working on. A brilliant young student, Amandine wrote a thesis in Memphis in the United States before deciding to return to France to pursue her career. For some years, her laboratory has been studying the Sen1 protein in yeast, this being equivalent to the senataxin protein observed in humans. 

Amandine has started working on human cells. When it is ‘coding’, RNA is an intermediate support for the genes in the synthesis of the proteins that the cells need to perform their functions. But lots of other RNAs can be ’non-coding’. 

When their production goes unchecked, they can interfere with the RNA coding a protein, for example. It's this phenomenon, which is potentially dangerous for the cell, this ’hidden (or pervasive) transcription’ that the young scientist is attempting to analyze in the hope of one day coming up with treatments to combat these neurodegenerative diseases. 

“Our goal is to study the senataxin’s mechanism of action at molecular level and to understand its possible role in terminating the transcription of non-coding RNA in humans”.

Let us know what you think of her performance @4womeninscience

For Women in Science

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