Metabolic Epigenetics in the Barrès Group

The Barrès Group investigates how diet and physical activity, by influencing somatic and gametic cells, influence long-term metabolic health in present and future generations.

Research focus

Metabolic health and susceptibility to metabolic disease may in part be attributed to the gene expression programme that orchestrates when and where genes and their products are expressed. Epigenetic signals such as DNA methylation, chromatin structure, histone modifications and small RNAs contribute to modulate the gene expression program in time and space, thereby integrating the biological response to lifestyle and environmental factors that may result in disease.

The overarching objective of the Barrès Group is to understand how diet and physical exercise influence long term metabolic health, both in present and future generations. In particular, the group is interested in identifying the mechanisms by which lifestyle and environmental factors influence somatic and gametic cells and how these processes alter the long-term function of metabolic tissues and organs.

Main findings

“Preadipocytes from obese humans with type 2 diabetes are epigenetically reprogrammed at genes controlling adipose tissue function”
Published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2018, this study uses RNA sequencing to assess the transcriptomic profile of visceral adipose tissue preadipocytes collected from Lean, Obese and Obese with type 2 diabetes. Its findings support a mechanism by which adipocyte precursors are epigenetically reprogrammed in vivo.

“Endurance training remodels sperm-borne small RNA expression and methylation at neurological gene hotspots”Published in Clinical Epigenetics in 2018, this study uses sRNA sequencing and RRBS and shows that short-term endurance training changes the epigenome of the human spermatozoa. The study identifies that epigenetically altered genes relates to the development of the central nervous system and proposes potential genomic hot spots for epigenetic variation upon environmental stress.

“Obesity and Bariatric Surgery Drive Epigenetic Variation of Spermatozoa in Humans”
Published in Cell Metabolism in 2016, this study shows that the epigenome of human spermatozoa dynamically changes under environmental pressure and offers insight into how obesity may propagate metabolic dysfunction to the next generations.

Staff of the Barrès Group

Group leader: Professor Romain Barrès

The Barrès Group