Isadora Rocha De Abreu

MIT Department: Biological Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Anders Hansen
Undergraduate Institution: Nova Southeastern University
Website: Medium, LinkedIn
Research Poster


My name is Isadora De Abreu. In my home institution, I work at Dr. Craddock’s lab investigating how different chemicals change the conformation of the protein tubulin, associated with the development of Alzheimer’s. My research at MIT consists of investigating the mechanism of chromatin loops, specifically the CTCF binding domain and cohesin. My interests include structural biology related to gene regulation and cell communication. I am passionate about science communication and believe that science should be accessible to all. If you are an incoming intern or applicant interested to chat about the program or research contact me through my personal email on my website. In my free time, I enjoy reading novels and writing about things I care about.

2021 Abstract

How are Chromatin Loops Formed in Brain Cells?  Investigating CTCF and Cohesin Loop Extrusion

Isadora De Abreu1,2, Michele Gabriele2, Hugo Brandao2, Asmita Jha2,
Simon Benedikt Grosse-Holz3, Claudia Cattoglio4, Tsung-Han S. Hsieh4, Christoph Zechner5, Leonid Mirny3, Hansen Anders2
1Department of Psychology, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale,
FL 33314
2Department of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
3Institute for Medical Engineering & Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
4Center for Computational Biology, University of California, Berkeley,
Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
5CSBD and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics,
Dresden, Germany.

Understanding how gene expression is regulated is important to physiology and pathology. Gene regulation controls human development from a molecular level to the complex differentiation of tissues and organs in the human body. DNA can form long range interactions that can create chromatin loops and topological association domains (TADs) as a higher order genome organization. TADs are structural domains that can be also involved in the interaction between enhancers and promoters, thus regulating gene expression. CTCF and cohesin proteins are involved in extruding loops from the chromatin in a dynamic manner. Mutations can disrupt the interaction between DNA, CTCF and cohesin, which can cause developmental alterations and cancers. There is little known about the mechanism of gene regulation through CTCF and cohesin loop extrusion, especially since previous studies do not take into account how often they interact over time and space. We investigate how the CTCF protein and cohesin interact to create loops inside the nuclei of mouse embryonic stem cells differentiated into neurons to influence gene regulation and create the 3D structure of the genome through 3D cell imaging super resolution.