Lafontaine, Brussels, Belgium


Ribosome biogenesis & function

Ribosomal RNA modification & processing





Denis L.J. Lafontaine received a research MSc (1991) and a PhD (1995) in Molecular Biology & Genetics from the University of Namur(Belgium) under the supervision of feu Prof Jean Vandenhaute. He conducted post-doctoral training (1995-2001) with Prof David Tollervey in the Gene Expression program at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL, Heidelberg) and The Welcome Trust Center for Cell Biology at the University of Edinburgh. Denis was recruited to a permanent position with the Belgian F.R.S./FNRS in 2001, and since then has worked as a Principal Investigator at the Institute of Molecular Biology & Medecine at the University of Brussels. Denis is currently a Professor at the University of Brussels and a Research Director with the F.R.S./FNRS. He is a co-founder and co-director of a preclinical imaging center, the Center for Microscopy and Molecular Imaging (Cmmi). He co-organized the International Ribosome Synthesis Meeting in 2012 (Banff, Canada), in 2015 (Brussels, Belgium), and in 2018 (Magog, Canada).  In 2017, he was appointed as Dissemination Officer for the COST project Epitran on Epitranscriptomics. In 2018, he joined the ULB-Cancer Research Center (U-CRC).  He is involved in an international Master on RNA Biochemistry at the University of Lorraine and is acting as a referee for journals in the field of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and for international funding agencies.



Pre-rRNA modification: HiSeq-based approach, quantitative HPLC, primer extension on natural and derivatized RNAs, metabolic labelingPre-rRNA processing: high resolution quantitative northern blot analysis, primer extension, metabolic labeling (pulse-chase)Nucleolar imaging: brightfield, confocal (spin-disc) and EM, live-cell imaging, high throughput screening, siRNA screensCancer biology: mouse xenografts, cell growth assays



– human cells– budding yeast


Stamatopoulou, V., Parisot, P., De Vleeschouwer, C. and Lafontaine, D. L. J. (2018). “A method for discriminating normal from altered nucleolar morphology, with applications in basic cell biology and potential in human disease diagnostics.” Nat Protoc In Press. 

Sharma, S., Marchand, V., Motorin, Y. and Lafontaine, D. L. J. (2017). “Identification of sites of 2′-O-methylation vulnerability in human ribosomal RNAs by systematic mapping.” Sci Rep 7: 11490.

Leucci, E., Vendramin, R., Spinazzi, M., Laurette, P., Fiers, M., Wouters, J., Radaelli, E., Eyckerman, S., Leonelli, C., Vanderheyden, K., Rogiers, A., Hermans, E., Baatsen, P., Aerts, S., Amant, F., Van Aelst, S., van den Oord, J., de Strooper, B., Davidson, I., Lafontaine, D. L. J., Gevaert, K., Vandesompele, J., Mestdagh, P. and Marine, J. C. (2016). “Melanoma addiction to the long non-coding RNA SAMMSON.” Nature 531: 518-522.

Nicolas, E., Parisot, P., Pinto-Monteiro, C., de Walque, R., De Vleeschouwer, C. and Lafontaine, D. L. J. (2016). “Involvement of human ribosomal proteins in nucleolar structure and p53-dependent nucleolar stress.” Nat Commun 7: 11390.

– Companion website at Www.RibosomalProteins.Com

Lafontaine, D. L. J. (2015). “Noncoding RNAs in eukaryotic ribosome synthesis and function.” Nature Structural and Molecular Biology 22: 11-19.

Sharma, S. and Lafontaine, D. L. J. (2015). “”View From A Bridge”: A New Perspective on Eukaryotic rRNA base Modification.” Trends Biochem Sci 40: 560-575.

Zorbas, C., Nicolas, E., Wacheul, L., Huvelle, E., Heurgue-Hamard, V. and Lafontaine, D. L. J. (2015). “The human 18S rRNA base methyltransferases DIMT1L and WBSCR22-TRMT112 but not rRNA modification are required for ribosome biogenesis.” Molecular  Biology of the Cell 26: 2080-2095.

Sharma, S., Langhendries, J. L., Watzinger, P., Kotter, P., Entian, K. D. and Lafontaine, D. L. J. (2015). “Yeast Kre33 and human NAT10 are conserved 18S rRNA cytosine acetyltransferases that modify tRNAs assisted by the adaptor Tan1/THUMPD1.” Nucleic Acids Res 43: 2242-2258.

Hauenschild, R., Tserovski, L., Schmid, K., Thuring, K., Winz, M. L., Sharma, S., Entian, K. D., Wacheul, L., Lafontaine, D. L. J., Anderson, J., Alfonzo, J., Hildebrandt, A., Jaschke, A., Motorin, Y. and Helm, M. (2015). “The reverse transcription signature of N-1-methyladenosine in RNA-Seq is sequence dependent.” Nucleic Acids Res 43: 9950-9964.

Tafforeau, L., Zorbas, C., Langhendries, J. L., Mullineux, S. T., Stamatopoulou, V., Mullier, R., Wacheul, L. and Lafontaine, D. L. J. (2013). “The complexity of human ribosome biogenesis revealed by systematic nucleolar screening of Pre-rRNA processing factors.” Mol Cell 51: 539-551.

-Companion website at Www.RibosomeSynthesis.Com

“We are entering an exciting era where for the first time RNA modifications can be mapped globally at once on the entire transcriptome by use”

“There are exciting cases of RNA modification crosstalks where an enzyme known to be active on one class of RNA is now shown to be working on”