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Symer project

SYMER Project : A systems approach to new paradigms in metabolic and epigenetic regulation

Understanding how environment and lifestyle can affect metabolism and thus reprogram  a  person’s  genetic  heritage  by  epigenetic  changes  for  potential  transmission across generations

Cellular  metabolism  reflects  not  only  our  genetic  disposition,  but  also  our  lifestyle  and  environmental  exposures, including  the  presence  of  noxious  substances  like  endocrine  disruptors.  SYMER  mobilizes  an  international  and  interdisciplinary  consortium  within  a  systems  biology  approach  to  analyze  altered  metabolic  profiles,  and  how  they  can  leave  an  imprint  on  our  genes  in  form  of  potentially  inheritable  epigenetic  changes.  These  changes  are  suspected to fuel the rising threat of chronic diseases across generations.

A recent paradigm shift defines metabolism not only as a series of mass and energy conversions, but also as an information transducing mechanism.

“Information carrying” metabolites seem to play a central role for regulating epigenetics, the reprogramming of genetic information by chemical modification of DNA and histones, finally leading to altered gene expression. This new concept has important and far-reaching consequences for human society, since the general public now foresees, for the first time, the impact of the environment, life style, health and social conditions on the human genome, an effect that appears to be fuelled by changes in metabolism and that might impact several generations. In fact, the metabolism-epigenetic axis may well represent a missing link in many otherwise unrelated pathologies, including the global threat of rapidly spreading non-communicable chronic diseases, responsible of almost 90% of deaths in France.

To tackle these complex issues, the interdisciplinary SYMER consortium of experts within UGA and international centers of excellence are joining forces for a systems project. Its multi-scale experimental approach (cellular, animal, human, society) integrates different biological systems. Their analysis and interpretation will require the development of mathematical tools and predictive models, as well as a deep understanding of the societal and political implications and expectations in this emerging field.

Project leaders

Saadi Khochbin
Institute for Advanced Biosciences (IAB)

Uwe Schlattner
Université Grenoble Alpes - LBFA

Submitted on November 16, 2023

Updated on November 17, 2023