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Joan Barau

Regulation of Transposable Elements in Ageing

Our team focuses on the study of transposable elements – mobile repeated sequences that make up more than half of the human genome. Initially thought to be mostly inactive, these sequences have increasingly been found to be active during normal and pathological development. The activity of certain families of transposable elements mark the totipotent and naïve pluripotent embryo, and are important markers and targets of genome regulation with relevance for regenerative medicine and rejuvenation therapies. On the other hand, the activity of some families of transposable elements can be found in physiological ageing, where they generate pro-inflammatory stimuli, and in ageing-related diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's, where they can contribute to genome instability and misregulation. We leverage the study of transposable elements in in vitro models of ageing and in mice to understand how our genome changes its regulation during ageing, and to uncover novel potential therapeutic interventions aimed at reducing the deleterious effects of ageing.

Research website

Positions held

  • Since 2019: Group Leader, Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), Mainz
  • 2013 - 2019: Postdoctoral Researcher, Institut Curie, Paris


  • 2006 - 2012: PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology, University of Campinas
  • 2001 - 2005: BS in Biology, University of Campinas

Selected publications by Joan Barau

Prakash SA and Barau J (2020) Chromatin profiling in mouse embryonic germ cells by CUT&RUN. Pages 253–264 in: Epigenetic Reprogramming During Mouse Embryogenesis. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 2214 (eds. Ancelin K & Borensztein M), Springer US, New York, NY  Link

Barau J, Teissandier A, Zamudio N, Roy S, Nalesso V, Hérault Y, Guillou F and Bourc’his D (2016) The DNA methyltransferase DNMT3C protects male germ cells from transposon activityScience, 354:909–912 Link

Barau J, Grandis A, Carvalho VMA, Teixeira GS, Zaparoli GHA, do Rio MCS, Rincones J, Buckeridge MS and Pereira GAG (2015) Apoplastic and intracellular plant sugars regulate developmental transitions in witches’ broom disease of cacaoJ Exp Bot, 66:1325–1337 Link

Zamudio N, Barau J, Teissandier A, Walter M, Borsos M, Servant N and Bourc’his D (2015) DNA methylation restrains transposons from adopting a chromatin signature permissive for meiotic recombinationGenes Dev, 29:1256–1270 Link