Claire Vandiedonck

Post-doctoral Research Scientist

Mapping haplotype-specific transcription in the classical MHC

Claire - Photo

My main research interest is the genetics of autoimmune diseases, focusing on their prime genetic factor, the human Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). My work is situated at the interface of mutifactorial genetics, genomics, and transcriptomics, and involves both "wet lab" and bioinformatics.

Prior to working in Oxford, I obtained a Ph. D in genetics from the University Descartes-Paris  in 2004. I was working in the laboratory of Dr Henri-Jean Garchon, where I analysed the multifaceted role of the MHC in the genetic predisposition to acquired autoimmune myasthenia gravis and in the regulation of autoantibody expression.

However, the final identification of the causal variants has been rendered difficult by the linkage disequilibrium, especially in the MHC where it extends over long distances. Analysis of modification of MHC gene expression appears then as a necessary complement to help identify the disease variants.

With this perspective in mind, in 2005 I joined the laboratory of Dr Julian Knight in Oxford. My main project aims at identifying polymorphisms that modulate MHC gene expression, in particular polymorphisms found on common haplotypes associated with susceptibility to autoimmune disease. I have defined sites of haplotype-specific transcription occurring across the classical MHC which we are complimenting by mapping sites of DNase hypersensitivity with Dr Maxim Freidin.

MHC HistoryI have also had a special interest in studying the expression of two emblematic genes of the MHC central class III region, the TNF and LTA. I am finally involved in the development of strategies to investigate allele-specific expression, in collaboration with Dr Susana Campino (Sanger Centre, UK).

Prior to my D.Phil, while graduating as an M.Sc at University Pierre et Marie Curie, I had acquired lab experience in genetics in three laboratories : I worked in 1998 on lipoatrophic diabetes with Dr Jocelyne Magré in the lab of Pr Capeau in Paris; on insulin resistance syndrome and type 2 diabetes in the laboratory of Dr Froguel at the Pasteur Institute in Lille in 1998 and on progressive pseudo-rheumatoid dysplasia under the supervision of Dr. Judith Fischer at Genethon in 1997.

Keywords: Immunogenetics, MHC, Autoimmunity, Myasthenia gravis, Type 1 Diabetes, Genetics, eQTL mapping, Regulatory variants, Genetical genomics, Alternative splicing

Publications

Sponsored by: Five years postdoctoral position at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford University (05/2005 till date), Doctoral fellowship from the French Association pour la Recherche sur le Cancer (ARC) (10/2004 to 12/2004),  One-year doctoral fellowship from the French Association Against Myopathies (AFM) (10/2003 to 09/2004),  Three-years Ph.D. grant, from the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Technology (10/2000 to 09/2003)