Grants awarded

Investigating retrotransposon-driven gene expression programmes in early development


Dr Michelle Percharde

Imperial College London

United Kingdom

Transposable elements (TEs) are parts of our DNA that can 'paste' themselves into new places in the genome. Uncontrolled TE activity has been implicated in negative processes such as neurodegeneration and cancer. However, several TEs are highly expressed during development, and they can also have beneficial roles in cells. 

I will focus on the role and regulation of MERVL, a TE which is highly expressed during the earliest stages of embryonic development. I will investigate the mechanisms that control MERVL expression in embryonic stem cells and embryos and determine the impact of MERVL expression on key essential processes in early embryonic development. 

These studies will increase our understanding of how TEs contribute to normal development and could shed light on how these processes change in disease.