Gene expression and Ageing

Open Internship Position at CRI Paris!

Team Name: Understanding the end-of-life (UTELab), INSERM U1284, Université de Paris, Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI)

Project supervisors: Michael Rera , Flaminia Zane


Deciphering change in gene expression associated with ageing and death in Drosophila melanogaster


Ageing is a process affecting a broad range of living organisms. In humans and multiple model organisms, it is characterized by an age-dependent decrease in functional efficiency and increased vulnerability to death. The classical approach for studying ageing involves comparing individuals of different chronological age. Even if deregulation in certain pathways and mechanisms have been identified as associated with ageing (López-Otı́n et al., 2013), a comprehensive picture of the process is still missing. We believe the inability to look at the physiological age of individuals rather than their chronological age is an important limiting factor in ageing research. Our lab has described a new age-dependent and death-related phenotype in Drosophila melanogaster. By looking at the increase in the intestinal permeability to a blue food dye, we are able to identify individuals committed to death in a few days (Rera at al, 2012). These individuals, called “Smurf”, are the only ones, among a population, to exhibit various age-related changes and high-risk of impending death whatever their chronological age; we therefore hypothesized Smurfness to be a good proxy to follow physiological age of single individuals (Tricoire et Rera, 2015). Through whole body RNAseq on drosophila, we have demonstrated (unpublished data) that Smurfs present a stereotyped transcriptome independently of their chronological age, overlapping what has been previously described as aged-transcriptome (Stageman et al, 2017). Our bioinformatic analysis has led to the identification of a) putative genes which activity could affect Smurfs transition and b) putative pathways deregulated at the end-of-life. The internship aims at experimentally validating these results. The student will 1) validate the effect of alteration of the putative Smurfs-genes on Drosophila lifespan through GeneSwitch longevity assay; 2) investigate the change in expression of Smurfs specific genes with age in different tissues (qPCR); 3) according to the length of the internship, investigate structural changes in the tissues of interest identified in (2) that might link the specific gene-alteration to the organ failure occurring in the Smurf phase.

Where and when:

The internship will take place in the second semester of the academic year 2020-2021, 5 / 6 months, starting in spring at latest (but preferences can be discussed). Our lab is based at CRI, an interdisciplinary research center gathering researchers with the most different background ( The internship is wet-lab based, but interest/previous experience in bioinformatic is welcomed, even if not required. Salary is 550 € a month. Feel free to contact us for any additional information/discussion.

Interested students should send their CV to : Michael Rera and Flaminia Zane

We believe in community diversity as a driving force of excellence. Therefore, we strongly encourage members of underrepresented groups to apply.