Dr. Rottiers recieved her PhD from Ghent University working on C. elegans hormonal regulation in the lab of Adam Antebi. She did her postdoctoral work with Dr. Anders Naar at the MGH Cancer Center in Boston.
Veerle Rottiers' research is aimed at understanding the genetics of human obesity through the study of conserved lipid homeostasis genes and pathways in the model organism C. elegans.
More than one-third of U.S. adults are currently obese, causing an alarming rise in obesity associated diseases as well health care costs. Numerous human Genome-Wide Association Studies have found significant associations between many specific genetic loci and obesity. However, the importance or mechanism of action for the vast majority of these genetic loci is lacking and hard to obtain. Functional studies of conserved genes in model organisms have the potential to determine the role of associated genes and identify those that could be targeted for treatment. Through cross referencing the results of genome wide screens for fat regulators in C. elegans with human obesity GWAS lists, we identified potential conserved pathways of lipid homeostasis. We are using a variety of genetic and molecular techniques in C. elegans and mammalian cell culture to assign functions to these genes and assess their therapeutic potential.
Another focus of the Rottiers lab is to understand sex specific differences in aging. We use the worm, C. elegans, to study how the removal of germline stem cells increases the lifespan in a sex-specific manner. Like many stem cell systems, the C. elegans germ line contains a self-renewing germ cell population that is maintained by a niche. Interestingly, specific removal of the proliferating germline stem cells (GSCs) in the gonad of C. elegans hermaphrodites robustly increases their lifespan while male lifespan is not changed. We are using metabolomic and genetic tools to investigate the changes that occur (or fail to occur) upon germ cell stem cell loss in hermaphrodites and males and determine the nature of the sex-specific differences in response to GSC loss. Such research will help us understand how changes in GSCs pools or different responses to signals from the germ cell stem affect the lifespan of organisms in a sex specific way.
- Rottiers, V., Obad, S., Petri, A., McGarrah, R., Lindholm, M. W., Black, J. C., Sinha, S., Goody, R. J., Lawrence, M. S., deLemos, A. S., Hansen, H. F., Whittaker, S., Henry, S., Brookes, R., Najafi-Shoushtari, S., Chung, R. T., Whetstine, J. R., Gerszten, R. E., Kauppinen, S., & Naar, A. M. (2013). Pharmacological inhibition of a microRNA family in nonhuman primates by a seed-targeting 8-mer antimiR. Science translational medicine. 5:212ra162.