Honors & Awards

  • Doctoral Fellowship, French Foundation for Medical Research (FRM) (2010-2011)
  • Doctoral Fellowship, Ecole Polytechnique (2007-2010)
  • Highest honors for research internship, Department of Biology, Ecole Polytechnique (2007)

Professional Education

  • Ingenieur, Ecole Polytechnique (2007)
  • Master of Science, Ecole Polytechnique (2007)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Universite De Paris Vi (2011)

Stanford Advisors

Research & Scholarship

Lab Affiliations


Journal Articles

  • Evidence that masking of synapsis imperfections counterbalances quality control to promote efficient meiosis. PLoS genetics Mlynarczyk-Evans, S., Roelens, B., Villeneuve, A. M. 2013; 9 (12)


    Reduction in ploidy to generate haploid gametes during sexual reproduction is accomplished by the specialized cell division program of meiosis. Pairing between homologous chromosomes and assembly of the synaptonemal complex at their interface (synapsis) represent intermediate steps in the meiotic program that are essential to form crossover recombination-based linkages between homologs, which in turn enable segregation of the homologs to opposite poles at the meiosis I division. Here, we challenge the mechanisms of pairing and synapsis during C. elegans meiosis by disrupting the normal 1∶1 correspondence between homologs through karyotype manipulation. Using a combination of cytological tools, including S-phase labeling to specifically identify X chromosome territories in highly synchronous cohorts of nuclei and 3D rendering to visualize meiotic chromosome structures and organization, our analysis of trisomic (triplo-X) and polyploid meiosis provides insight into the principles governing pairing and synapsis and how the meiotic program is "wired" to maximize successful sexual reproduction. We show that chromosomes sort into homologous groups regardless of chromosome number, then preferentially achieve pairwise synapsis during a period of active chromosome mobilization. Further, comparisons of synapsis configurations in triplo-X germ cells that are proficient or defective for initiating recombination suggest a role for recombination in restricting chromosomal interactions to a pairwise state. Increased numbers of homologs prolong markers of the chromosome mobilization phase and/or boost germline apoptosis, consistent with triggering quality control mechanisms that promote resolution of synapsis problems and/or cull meiocytes containing synapsis defects. However, we also uncover evidence for the existence of mechanisms that "mask" defects, thus allowing resumption of prophase progression and survival of germ cells despite some asynapsis. We propose that coupling of saturable masking mechanisms with stringent quality controls maximizes meiotic success by making progression and survival dependent on achieving a level of synapsis sufficient for crossover formation without requiring perfect synapsis.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003963

    View details for PubMedID 24339786

  • Live Imaging of Bicoid-Dependent Transcription in Drosophila Embryos CURRENT BIOLOGY Lucas, T., Ferraro, T., Roelens, B., Chanes, J. D., Walczak, A. M., Coppey, M., Dostatni, N. 2013; 23 (21): 2135-2139


    The early Drosophila embryo is an ideal model to understand the transcriptional regulation of well-defined patterns of gene expression in a developing organism. In this system, snapshots of transcription measurements obtained by RNA FISH on fixed samples cannot provide the temporal resolution needed to distinguish spatial heterogeneity from inherent noise. Here, we used the MS2-MCP system to visualize in living embryos nascent transcripts expressed from the canonical hunchback (hb) promoter under the control of Bicoid (Bcd). The hb-MS2 reporter is expressed as synchronously as endogenous hb in the anterior half of the embryo, but unlike hb it is also active in the posterior, though more heterogeneously and more transiently than in the anterior. The length and intensity of active transcription periods in the anterior are strongly reduced in absence of Bcd, whereas posterior ones are mostly Bcd independent. This posterior noisy signal decreases progressively through nuclear divisions, so that the MS2 reporter expression mimics the known anterior hb pattern at cellularization. We propose that the establishment of the hb pattern relies on Bcd-dependent lengthening of transcriptional activity periods in the anterior and may require two distinct repression mechanisms in the posterior.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2013.08.053

    View details for Web of Science ID 000326993600023

    View details for PubMedID 24139736

  • The time to measure positional information: maternal Hunchback is required for the synchrony of the Bicoid transcriptional response at the onset of zygotic transcription DEVELOPMENT Porcher, A., Abu-Arish, A., Huart, S., Roelens, B., Fradin, C., Dostatni, N. 2010; 137 (16): 2795-2804


    It is widely accepted that morphogenetic gradients determine cell identity by concentration-dependent activation of target genes. How precise is each step in the gene expression process that acts downstream of morphogens, however, remains unclear. The Bicoid morphogen is a transcription factor directly activating its target genes and provides thus a simple system to address this issue in a quantitative manner. Recent studies indicate that the Bicoid gradient is precisely established in Drosophila embryos after eight nuclear divisions (cycle 9) and that target protein expression is specified five divisions later (cycle 14), with a precision that corresponds to a relative difference of Bicoid concentration of 10%. To understand how such precision was achieved, we directly analyzed nascent transcripts of the hunchback target gene at their site of synthesis. Most anterior nuclei in cycle 11 interphasic embryos exhibit efficient biallelic transcription of hunchback and this synchronous expression is specified within a 10% difference of Bicoid concentration. The fast diffusion of Bcd-EGFP (7.7 mum(2)/s) that we captured by fluorescent correlation spectroscopy in the nucleus is consistent with this robust expression at cycle 11. However, given the interruption of transcription during mitosis, it remains too slow to be consistent with precise de novo reading of Bicoid concentration at each interphase, suggesting the existence of a memorization process that recalls this information from earlier cycles. The two anterior maternal morphogens, Bicoid and Hunchback, contribute differently to this early response: whereas Bicoid provides dose-dependent positional information along the axis, maternal Hunchback is required for the synchrony of the response and is therefore likely to be involved in this memorization process.

    View details for DOI 10.1242/dev.051300

    View details for Web of Science ID 000280339000019

    View details for PubMedID 20663819

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