­­­Dr. Mélanie Laurin is a regular researcher in the Oncology axis of the CHU of Quebec – Laval University Research Center. She is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Molecular Biology, Medical Biochemistry and Pathology at Laval University. Her research activities focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms that orchestrate skin embryonic development and how these can contribute when deregulated to skin cancer progression. Throughout her career, Dr. Laurin’s work has been published in prestigious journals. Notably, one of her breakthrough received a best publication award from the CIHR Institute of Cancer Research and was identified as a Top 10 discoveries funded by the Canadian Cancer Society in 2013. 

Understanding the molecular mechanisms of skin development and skin cancer progression

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) of the skin is the most frequently occurring form of all human cancers. Due to the striking number of cases, BCC treatment creates a tremendous burden on the healthcare system. While BCCs may be easily treated via surgical removal, a significant number of patients with advance cases fail to respond, or develop resistance to currently available treatments. Dr. Laurin’s team is particularly interested in characterizing the role of Rho GTPase signalling networks during development and cancer progression. Due to their orchestration of cytoskeletal dynamics, these networks are emerging as key regulator of tissue development and tumoral invasion yet; their contribution to skin development and cancer progression had been so far neglected.

The use of a powerful model to identify new therapeutic target

To tackle her questions, Dr. Laurin uses a powerful technique that consist of injecting lentiviral particles in the amniotic cavity of mouse embryos, which allows the specific infection of mouse skin progenitors (Beronja et al., Nature Medicine 2010). This technique is extremely powerful, as it allows high-throughput screen, fast genetic perturbation and mosaic analysis in mice, approaches that have been otherwise restricted to invertebrate and lower vertebrate models. By using this technology in combination with molecular biology, cellular biology and proteomic approaches, the outcome of these studies will not only improve our understanding of skin tissue development, but they will have important implications for the identification of new therapeutic targets for the treatment of aggressive BCC cases.

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Komander D, Patel M, Laurin M, Fradet N, Pelletier A, Barford D, Côté JF

An alpha-helical extension of the ELMO1 pleckstrin homology domain mediates direct interaction to DOCK180 and is critical in Rac signaling

Journal Article

Mol Biol Cell, 19 (11), 2008.

Abstract | Links:

Beslu N, Krosl J, Laurin M, Mayotte N, Humphries KR, Sauvageau G

Molecular interactions involved in HOXB4-induced activation of HSC self-renewal

Journal Article

Blood, 104 (8), 2004.

Abstract | Links:

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Active projects

  • Deciphering the role of FGD5 during breast cancer progression, from 2021-05-01 to 2024-03-31
  • Deciphering the specificity and function of FGD RhoGEFs during skin development, from 2020-04-01 to 2025-03-31
  • Deciphering the specificity and function of FGD RhoGEFs during skin development, from 2020-04-01 to 2025-03-31
  • Development of a in vivo mouse screening platform to identify molecular effectors of non-melanoma skin cancers, from 2022-12-01 to 2023-11-30
  • Établissement d'une infrastructure permettant d'étudier le développement de la peau et sa progression tumorale, from 2022-09-01 to 2023-12-15
  • Étude des voies de signalisation régulant le développement embryonnaire et le cancer de la peau, from 2021-07-01 to 2025-06-30
  • Étude des voies de signalisation régulant le développement embryonnaire et le cancer de la peau- Subvention d'établissement de jeune chercheuse, from 2021-07-01 to 2025-06-30
  • Programme de soutien aux nouveaux chercheurs, from 2021-07-01 to 2024-06-30
  • Unravelling the role of ARHGEF3 during skin development and hair follicle regeneration, from 2021-10-01 to 2026-09-30

Recently finished projects

  • Deciphering the signalling cascade mediating basal cell carcinoma progression, from 2020-01-01 to 2021-12-31
Data provided by the Université Laval research projects registery