Immunity and Viral Infections

Mechanisms of Genetic Diversity

Under the direction of Javier Di Noia

Research Unit

The Mechanisms of Genetic Diversity Research Unit studies the molecular biology and physiology of antibody responses. The major area of the research program studies the function and regulation of the enzyme Activation induced deaminase (AID), expressed in B lymphocytes. This enzyme is unique because it can directly make mutations in the genome. Normally, it mutates the immunoglobulin genes to initiate the mechanisms of somatic hypermutation and class switch recombination, which change the antibody affinity and function. We study these mechanisms and the regulation of AID, to understand how it is kept in check to prevent collateral damage that can be oncogenic and cause B cell lymphomas.

The research in this area has direct implication for human disease and vaccination strategies. 

A second area of the research program studies a recently discovered enzyme belonging to the same family of AID, which is likely to participate in the metabolism of deoxynucleotides, the building blocks of DNA. This metabolism is limiting for cell proliferation and has implications in cancer, the metabolism of certain anticancer drugs, and the efficiency of viral infections. 

Javier Di Noia

Research Unit Director

  • Associate Vice-President, Student Affairs
  • Director, Mechanisms of Genetic Diversity Research Unit, IRCM
  • Full IRCM Research Professor
  • Full Research Professor, Department of Medicine (accreditation in biochemistry and molecular medicine; molecular biology; and microbiology, infectiology and immunology), Université de Montréal
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine (Division of Experimental Medicine), McGill University
  • Canada Research Chairholder in Genetic Diversity

Degrees and relevant experience

  • PhD in biochemistry, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina (2000)
  • M.Sc. in biological sciences, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina (1994)
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, United Kingdom (2001-2006)
Javier Di Noia
Research Unit Director
Kiersten Dionne
PhD student
Ariane Larouche
Postdoctoral fellow
Jana Ridani
M.Sc. Student
Porani Ganesh Subramani
PhD student
Astrid Zahn
Research Associate
Alexandra Gervais
Administrative Assistant

Major discoveries


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Contact information

Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM)
110, des Pins Avenue West
Montréal, Québec  H2W 1R7

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Immunity and Viral Infections