Communication extracellulaire dans les systèmes reproducteurs mâles et femelles

 

Clémence Belleannée

Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec - Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec (CHUQ)

 

Domaine : santé de la mère, des enfants et des adolescents

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 1

Concours 2016-2017

Infertility is a health issue that affects over half a million Canadians of childbearing age. More than 30% of infertility cases are unexplained and the accessibility to assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) raises questions regarding the long-term effect of these techniques on the health of children health born after ARTs. In that regards, it is crucial to address the basic physiology of the reproductive systems. My research program investigates the fundamental mechanisms controlling the acquisition and maintenance of fertility, in order to improve the diagnosis and treatment offered to infertile couples.

In the reproductive systems, specialized cells have developed the ability to remotely communicate in order to optimize the gametes surrounding environments and improve the chances of fertilization. Extracellular vesicles are released from most cells in biological fluids and are potent vectors of intercellular communication in biological systems. In my research program I scrutinize the role of the extracellular vesicles from the male reproductive system in the transfer of information via molecules called microRNAs, and the regulation of functions associated with fertility. In addition, these extracellular factors are part of the ejaculate and induce immune responses subsequently to their entrance into the female reproductive tract.

This well-orchestrated cellular system therefore ensures the protection of the female reproductive environment against pathogens while sustaining the progression of spermatozoa up to the oocyte in order to optimize fertilization. By using experimental approaches developed on mouse models as well as on clinical samples and reproductive tissue engineering, my research aims to decipher the role of microRNAs and extracellular vesicles in the regulation of sperm maturation and immune tolerance.

The long-term goal of our research is to identify signaling events controlling reproductive system physiology and to reveal novel targets to improve the diagnosis and treatment of infertility.