Full Name:  Nezha Suzanne Benabdallah
Phone:  0131 651 8565
Email SThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MRC Human Genetics Unit,
Institute of Gentics and Molecular Medicine
University of Edinburgh
Crewe Road

Enhancer/Promoter Communication High-Resolution Imaging and Engineering

My project aims to contribute to the understanding of how chromatin folding regulates gene expression. A particular interest for me is the study of DNA sequences (enhancers) that orchestrate the regulation of genes located far away in the chromosome. Genes controlled by enhancers are often critical for development and lead to severe defects when their activation is defective. However, how enhancers work is unclear. Knowing that enhancers are often located far from their target genes, a general assumption is that their mechanisms of action involves a long-range restructuring of chromatin. Nowadays, the most prominent model for distal enhancer-promoter interaction involves direct enhancer/promoter contacts with a looping out of intervening chromatin.
Using 3D-FISH combined with Structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM), I could study nuclear ultra-structure down to the 100 nm range and was able to measured long-range chromatin reorganisation upon enhancer-driven activation of the Sonic hedgehog gene (Shh). I studied the chromatin rearrangement during endogenous enhancer-driven activation of Shh and also after artificially recapitulating Shh activation by targeting synthetic transcription factors (activators proteins) to the Shh enhancers. Combining super-resolution microscopy and synthetic biology approaches allowed me to study in great depth chromatin folding.


Attended conferences and published materials:

  • ESRIC Symposium; October 2015 Poster presentation.
  • EMBO Nuclear Structure and Dynamics 2015; October 2015 Poster presentation.
  • Epigenetics in dialogue with the genome; June 2015 Poster presentation.
  • Edinburgh University Genome Editing and CRISPR Workshop; April 2015 30 minutes Talk.
  • SULSA Symposium; September 2014 Poster presentation.
  • Benabdallah NS, Bickmore WA. Regulatory Domains and Their Mechanisms. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 2015