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Laureate of the 2007 ATIP-avenir program


A holistic approach to development

Using the tiny Caenorhabditis elegans worm as a model, Denis Dupuy’s team is mapping the post-transcriptional regulation of development.

Denis Dupuy uses rich data from the whole genetic sequencing of the Caenorhabditis elegans worm combined with powerful post-genomic methods to decipher development from a gene to the complete organism.

With support from the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation to create his “genome regulation and evolution” team, Dr. Dupuy is conducting a major research project: creating the first quantitative database of post-transcriptional regulations in the development of C. elegans. In both worms and humans, these events affect messenger RNA (mRNA) and are critical in the development of the embryo and the preservation of the organism.

Dr. Dupuy’s team is focusing on two key aspects of post-transcriptional regulation at the whole genome level. The first concerns the microRNAs (miRNAs) that interact with the mRNAs and prevent the production of the corresponding protein. The researchers are observing the interactions for 200 genes with the help of fluorescent proteins.

The second focus is alternative splicing. This distinctive mRNA maturation process is believed to play a role in regulating approximately 10% of C. elegans genes.

An antibiotic-based selection system for mutant worms was developed by the team to accelerate this research and has already been adopted by more than 20 groups worldwide.


Denis Dupuy has been interested in complex biological systems since the start of his career. His doctoral research on the identification of a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia was radically transformed by the arrival of genomics. From the step-by-step methods of classic molecular biology, he switched to the systematic analysis of the whole human genome. Convinced that the molecular bases for animal development could only be understood by systematically characterizing gene expression profiles, Dr. Dupuy searched for the right research model. This he found with Marc Vidal, who he joined for a postdoctoral fellowship on the Caenorhabditis elegans nematode. His aim of mapping genetic expression at the level of the whole genome has led him to develop innovative tools and strategies. His work at the European Institute of Chemistry and Biology (IECB) in Bordeaux runs along the same lines, with emphasis on post-transcriptional regulation programs in C. elegans. Since 2012, he has also mentored a team of students in Bordeaux for the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition.

  • 1998 - 2001PhD in Science, Bordeaux Segalen University (France)
  • 2002 - 2007Postdoctoral research supervised by Dr. Marc Vidal, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School, Boston (USA)
  • 2007Laureate of the Avenir program at Inserm, in partnership with the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation
  • Since 2008Leader of the “genome regulation and evolution” group, Inserm/European Institute of Chemistry and Biology (IECB), Bordeaux (France)
  • 2008“Aquitaine” special award by the French Foundation for Medical Research (FRM)
  • Since 2011First-class researcher at Inserm (France)