Thomas Duchaine, Ph.D.
Associate Director Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre
Professor of the Department of Biochemistry
FRSQ Chercheur-Boursier Junior 1, Junior 2, and Senior
Dr. Duchaine’s group elucidates the mechanisms of RNAi and microRNA (miRNA) pathways that are vital for normal cellular function and implicated in many diseases, including cancer. They use C. elegans as a fundamental model to uncover basic principles and then investigate their relevance in cutting edge cancer models, with the goal of translating this knowledge to improve patient outcomes. They were instrumental in revealing mechanisms underlying the fundamental properties of miRNAs, discovering translational repression by miRNAs, mechanisms of miRNA cooperativity and their importance, and the role of the CCR4-Not complex in silencing target mRNAs. Their contributions to understanding the biology of RNAi pathways have illuminated mechanisms of oncogenic transformation and indicated new therapeutic directions. For example, they recently revealed the importance of alternative polyadenylation for the functions of the key tumour suppressor PTEN and discovered novel genomic connections for the oncogenic miR-17~92 miRNAs in lymphoma.
Dr Duchaine’s research program revolves around two main aims:
-To understand the molecular basis and functions of the RNAi phenomena
-To identify small RNAs with critical functions in gene regulation and cancer
His group exploits a wide array of experimental strategies including:
-Biochemistry and proteomics
-Forward and reverse genetics
-Genome edition in cells, and living organisms
-Molecular and cellular biology
Experimental model systems exploited include the nematode C. elegans, primary and transformed cell lines from human tissue and mouse models.