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Sarah Kimmins


BSc (Dalhousie), MSc (Nova Scotia Agricultural College), PhD (Dalhousie)
Associate Professor of Reproductive Biology

Canada Research Chair in Epigenetics, Reproduction and Development

sarah [dot] kimmins [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Sarah Kimmins)
Room MS1-091, Macdonald-Stewart Building
21,111 Lakeshore Road
Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec H9X 3V9

Tel.: 514-398-7658
Fax: 514-398-7964

Download Curriculum Vitae

Research interests

My research focuses on the epigenome, a heritable layer of biochemical information that includes the methylation of DNA, small RNAs, and the post-translational modification of chromatin associated proteins, the histones. The epigenome has been implicated in complex diseases such as cancer, diabetes, schizophrenia and autism.  There is enormous potential in disease treatment and prevention via increased understanding of the establishment of the epigenome in development as unlike the genome it is dynamic and responds to environmental influences. We are interested in how environmental exposures to the Father such as poor diet and toxicants can interact with the developing sperm, and how this is transmitted to the embryo. Also under investigation are the role of the epigenome in the pluripotency and biology of stem cells. We explore these research questions using transgenic mouse models to establish critical molecular underpinnings which are then translated and studied in humans.  Long-term goals are to develop pharmacological and lifestyle intervention strategies to improve child and adult health.

Key Words: epigenetics/epigenome, transcriptomics, epigenetic-inheritance, nutrients, toxicants, pharmacology, physiology, infertility, parental disease transmission, development, ovary, transgenics, epigenetic-environment interactions

In the News

Article in Nature Communications: Low paternal dietary folate alters the mouse sperm epigenome and is associated with negative pregnancy outcomes. Read online or download PDF

Read related article: Does dad's diet determine a baby's genetic fate?

Read about Dr Kimmin's groundbreaking work in epigenetics (pdf) appearing in International Innovation, published by Research Media, is the leading global dissemination resource for the wider scientific, technology and research communities, dedicated to disseminating the latest science, research and technological innovations on a global level. More information and a complimentary subscription offer to the publication can be found at: www.international-innovation-northamerica.com

Research networks

  • Transcriptome of a Healthy Embryo (NSERC, Network)
  • Réseau Québécois en Reproduction

L’épigénétique est utilisée pour décrire l’information biochimique héréditaire au sein de l’ADN et des proteines qui entourent et régulent la condensation de l’ADN. L’information épigénétique régule l’expression génique et peut être influencée par l’environment. Nos modeles animaux nous ont permis de determiner que l’alimentation joue un role capital dans le programme epigenetique et la fertilite. Nos études des profils épigénétiques altérés dans des biopsies prélevées sur des patients atteints de cancer testiculaire ont mis en lumière la possibilité qu’une perturbation du programme épigénétique soit associée avec la survenue cancer. De facon interessante, nos travaux les plus recents montrent que les profils epigenetiques regulent egalement la pluripotentialite et la proliferation dans les cancers testiculaires et chez les cellules souches.

Il est particulièrement important de mieux comprendre la contribution de l’épigénétique à la santé reproductive chez l’homme, puisque les modèles épigénétiques peuvent être perturbés par l’environnement et que les erreurs dans le code épigénétique peuvent avoir un impact à long terme sur la santé des hommes et de leur descendance.

Quebec Network on Reproduction

Selected publications since 2005

Godmann M, May E, Kimmins S.  Exposure of GC-1 spermatogonial-like cells to Tranylcypromine and Trichostatin A alters histone H3 methylation and acetylation and stimulates the expression of Gfra1 and Oct3/4 stem cell markers.  PLOS One (2010)

Lambrot R, Kimmins S.  Histone methylation is a critical regulator of abnormal gene expression in testis cancer.  International Journal of Andrology (2010)  

Kimmins S.  Expanding waistlines heighten risk for reproductive toxicity.  Biology of Reproduction 82(1):1-3 (2010)

Godmann M, Lambrot R, Kimmins S.  The dynamic epigenetic program in male germ cells: its role in spermatogenesis and its response to the environment.  Microscopy Research and Techniques.  72(8):603-19 (2009)

Eberlin A, Grauffel C, Abdelghani-Oulad M, Robert F, Lambrot R, Spehner D, Ponce-Perez L, Wurtz JM, Stote RH, Schultz P, Dejaegere A, Kimmins S, Tora L.  Histone H3 tails containing dimethylated lysine and adjacent phosphorylated serine modification adopt a specific conformation during mitosis and meiosis.  Molecular and Cellular Biology 28:1739-54 (2008)

SenedaMM, GodmannM, MurphyBD, Kimmins S, Bordignon V.  Developmental regulation of histone H3 methylation at lysine 4 in the porcine ovary.  Reproduction. 135:829-38 (2008)

Godmann M, Auger V, Ferraroni-Aguiar V, Di Sauro A, Sette C, Behr R, Kimmins S.  Dynamic regulation of histone H3 methylation at lysine 4 in mammalian spermatogenesis.  Biology of Reproduction 77:754-64 (2007)

Kimmins S, Crosio C, Kotaja N, Hirayama J, Monaco L, Hoog C, van Duin M,  Gossen JA, Sassone-Corsi P. Differential functions of the Aurora-B and Aurora-C kinases in mammalian spermatogenesis.  Mol Endocrinol 21:726-39 (2007)

Kotaja N, Bhattacharyya SN, Jaskiewicz L, Kimmins S, Parvinen M, Filipowicz W, Sassone-Corsi P.  The chromatoid body of male germ cells: similarity with processing bodies and presence of Dicer and microRNA pathway components.  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 103(8):2647-52 (2006)

Kimmins S, Sassone-Corsi P.  Chromatin remodeling and epigenetic features of germ cells.  Nature 434:583-589 (2005)