Dr. Clémence Belleannée, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproduction and researcher at the Research Center of the CHU de Québec-Université Laval since 2014. After obtaining her doctorate at François Rabelais University from Tours in France, Dr. Belleannée completed two post-doctorates, one at Laval University and the other at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital where she received the Epithelial Transport Group Young Investigator award in 2009. In 2021, the important contribution of her work in andrology was highlighted by the prestigious Matthew P. Hardy Young Andrologist Award she received by the American Society of Andrology.

Reproductive and urogenital health is an important component of men’s overall health and well-being. Too often, men have been overlooked in discussions of reproductive health, especially when reproductive issues such as contraception and infertility have been seen as women related. However, three-quarters of men today want to have access to alternative male contraceptives to condoms and more than one in twenty men face infertility problems.

The research carried out by Dr. Belleannée’s team focuses on the study of biological mechanisms which, when dysfunctional, are the cause of male infertility problems or urogenital diseases such as prostate cancer. This work focuses on the ability of cells of the urogenital system to capture physio-pathological changes through cellular antennas called primary cilia.

Beyond improving our knowledge of the fundamental mechanisms associated with reproductive and urogenital functions, this research aims to develop a reversible male contraceptive that does not compromise male fertility as well as to propose new therapeutic approaches against prostate cancer, a disease that kills nearly 5,000 men every year in Canada. This research is supported by funds from CIHR, CRSN and FRQS.

 

1-Release mechanisms and functions of ciliary vesicles

In mammals, extracellular vesicles released by epithelial cells of the male reproductive system participate in sperm maturation through the transfer of molecular cargoes. This unique process of somatic cell-sperm communication occurs in the epididymis, and controls the acquisition of sperm motility and fertilizing power. We have identified in the epididymal fluid surrounding spermatozoa a new subpopulation of extracellular vesicles whose molecular and functional properties are still unknown. Since these vesicles display markers of cell extensions called primary cilia, we hypothesize that they derive from the ciliated cells located upstream of the epididymis and possess unique properties and functions in this system. This work will reveal the unique features and functions of ciliary vesicles in the soma-sperm communication system and may identify novel cellular mechanisms that control sperm maturation and male reproductive functions. NSERC grant.

 

2- Understand the role of primary cilia in the initiation and progression of prostate cancer

Our body consists of billions of cells that communicate with each other to allow the execution of the most complex activities and daily life. Over the past few decades, researchers have discovered that our cells use an “antenna” to sense and respond appropriately to changes happening around them. These sensory antennas called “primary cilia” control cell proliferation and, their absence or dysfunction leads to the initiation of cancer and its progression. By combining state-of-the-art equipment for the study of animal models and human biopsies, our research aims to determine the role and therapeutic potential of ciliary molecules in prostate cancer, one of the most diagnosed cancers in Canada. This research will provide important insights into the biology of prostate cancer, with implications for the prevention and treatment of this alarming disease which has more than 400,000 deaths worldwide. CIHR grant.

 

3- Define the role of primary cilia in the control of male fertility

Because more than 30% of cases of male infertility are of unknown origin, it is crucial to identify the molecular factors regulating male reproductive functions. The epididymis is a long tubule located downstream of the testicle responsible for acquiring the fertilizing power of spermatozoa. It is therefore an ideal model to study the sequential events that transform an immature sperm into a fully motile and fertilizing sperm. Recently, primary cilia have been found associated with epithelial cells of the epididymis. These organelles are unique antennae that emerge from the surface of cells and transmit messages controlling the functions of these cells. By combining complementary in vitro and in vivo approaches, our research aims to elucidate the role of primary cilia in the development and maintenance of epididymal functions. Considering the importance of the functions of this organ in controlling the fertilizing capacities of spermatozoa, our research could provide new leads for the development of male contraceptives. CIHR grant.

 

 

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Chen H, Alves MBR, Belleannée C

Contribution of epididymal epithelial cell functions to sperm epigenetic changes and the health of progeny

Journal Article

Hum Reprod Update, 28 (1), 2021.

Abstract | Links:

Melki I, Allaeys I, Tessandier N, Levesque T, Cloutier N, Laroche A, Vernoux N, Becker Y, Benk-Fortin H, Zufferey A, Rollet-Labelle E, Pouliot M, Poirier G, Patey N, Belleannee C, Soulet D, McKenzie SE, Brisson A, Tremblay ME, Lood C, Fortin PR, Boilard E

Platelets release mitochondrial antigens in systemic lupus erythematosus

Journal Article

Sci Transl Med, 13 (581), 2021.

Abstract | Links:

Campolina-Silva GH, Barata MC, Werneck-Gomes H, Maria BT, Mahecha GAB, Belleannée C, Oliveira CA

Altered expression of the vitamin D metabolizing enzymes CYP27B1 and CYP24A1 under the context of prostate aging and pathologies

Journal Article

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol, 209 , 2021.

Abstract | Links:

Plante-Dube M, Picard C, Gilbert I, Robert C, Fievez V, Vlaeminck B, Belleannee C, Gervais R, Chouinard PY

Effects of a dietary supplement enriched in palmitoleic acid on fatty acid composition of follicular fluid, granulosa cell metabolism, and oocyte developmental capacity in early lactation dairy cows

Journal Article

J Dairy Sci, 104 (3), 2021.

Abstract | Links:

Alves MBR, Celeghini ECC, Belleannee C

From Sperm Motility to Sperm-Borne microRNA Signatures: New Approaches to Predict Male Fertility Potential

Journal Article

Front Cell Dev Biol, 8 , 2020.

Abstract | Links:

Girardet L, Bernet A, Calvo E, Soulet D, Joly-Beauparlant C, Droit A, Cyr DG, Belleannee C

Hedgehog signaling pathway regulates gene expression profile of epididymal principal cells through the primary cilium

Journal Article

FASEB J, 34 (6), 2020.

Abstract | Links:

Girardet L, Augiere C, Asselin MP, Belleannee C

Primary cilia: biosensors of the male reproductive tract

Journal Article

Andrology, 7 (5), 2019.

Abstract | Links:

Alves MBR, de Arruda RP, De Bem THC, Florez-Rodriguez SA, Sa Filho MF, Belleannee C, Meirelles FV, da Silveira JC, Perecin F, Celeghini ECC

Sperm-borne miR-216b modulates cell proliferation during early embryo development via K-RAS

Journal Article

Sci Rep, 9 (1), 2019.

Abstract | Links:

Becker Y, Loignon RC, Julien AS, Marcoux G, Allaeys I, Levesque T, Rollet-Labelle E, Benk-Fortin H, Cloutier N, Melki I, Eder L, Wagner E, Pelletier M, Hajj HE, Tremblay ME, Belleannee C, Hebert MJ, Dieude M, Rauch J, Fortin PR, Boilard E

Anti-mitochondrial autoantibodies in systemic lupus erythematosus and their association with disease manifestations

Journal Article

Sci Rep, 9 (1), 2019.

Abstract | Links:

Bernet A, Bastien A, Soulet D, Jerczynski O, Roy C, Bianchi Rodrigues Alves M, Lecours C, Tremblay ME, Bailey JL, Robert C, Belleannee C

Cell-lineage specificity of primary cilia during postnatal epididymal development

Journal Article

Hum Reprod, 33 (10), 2018.

Abstract | Links:

46 entries « 2 of 5 »
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Active projects

  • Mechanisms of release and signaling functions of ciliary vesicles, from 2022-04-01 to 2027-03-31
  • P.R.I.A.P.E*: Programme de Recherche sur l'Infertilité mAsculine et Physiologie de l'Epididyme, from 2020-07-01 to 2024-06-30
  • Platelets and neutrophils: the two culprits mediating pain in inflammatory arthritis, from 2020-04-01 to 2025-03-31
  • Réseau Québécois en Reproduction, from 2024-04-01 to 2030-03-31
  • Réseau Québécois en Reproduction (RQR), from 2017-04-01 to 2025-03-31
  • Unravelling the role of primary cilia in prostate cancer initiation and progression, from 2023-04-01 to 2028-03-31

Recently finished projects

  • Exploring A Novel Signalling Pathway in Cilia formation and Ciliopathies, from 2023-02-21 to 2024-02-21
  • Platelets and neutrophils: the two culprits mediating pain in inflammatory arthritis, from 2020-01-01 to 2022-12-31
  • Unravelling the role of primary cilia in the control of male fertility, from 2018-10-01 to 2023-03-31
Data provided by the Université Laval research projects registery