Our genetically diverse staff

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Dr Javier M Di Noia (PI)

Javier obtained a Biology degree and a PhD from the University of Buenos Aires working on the genetic diversity of the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. He did his post-doctoral training at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, where he learned about the mechanisms of antibody gene diversification mentored by Dr Michael Neuberger. He crossed back the Atlantic to establish his lab at the IRCM in mid 2006, where he is now professor. Javier held a Canada Research Chair in genetic diversity 2008-2018 and is currently a Merit researcher from the Fonds de recherche de Québec - Santé.

Dr Astrid Zahn (Research associate and lab manager)

Astrid was born in the city of Trelew, in Argentinean Patagonia. She obtained a BSc/MSc in Biological sciences at the University of Buenos Aires, then her PhD at the University of Cambridge, UK working on the hepatitis C virus. She joined the lab in 2009. Astrid manages the lab, contributes to most research lines, and drives her own project in germinal center biology.


  • Zhong M-C Lu Y, Qian J, Zahn A, Di Noia JM, Atar-Karo D. King I, Veillette A#. The SLAM family of receptors promotes humoral immunity by maintaining pro-survival effectors in activated germinal center B cells.p J Exp Med. 2021 Mar 1;218(3):e20200756.

  • Safavi S, Larouche A, Zahn A, Patenaude A-M, Domanska D, Dionne K, Rognes T, Dingler F, Kang S-K, Liu Y, Johnson N, Hébert J, Verdun RE, Rada CA, Vega F, Nilsen H, Di Noia JM#. The uracil-DNA glycosylase UNG protects the fitness of normal and cancer B cells expressing AID. NAR Cancer, 2020, 2(3),

  • Litzler LC, Zahn A, Meli AP, Hébert S, Patenaude AM, Methot SP, Sprumont A, Bois T, Kitamura D, Costantino S, King IL, Kleinman CL, Richard S, Di Noia JM#. PRMT5 is essential for B cell development and germinal center dynamics. Nature Communications, 2019 Jan 3;10(1):22. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07884-6

  • Cortizas E*, Zahn A*, Shiva S*, Reed JA, Vega F, Di Noia JM#, Verdun RE#. UNG protects B cells from AID-induced telomere loss. J. Exp. Med. 2016, 213(11), 2459-2472.

  • Zahn A and Di Noia JM#. AID in Somatic Hypermutation and Class Switch Recombination. In: Ratcliffe, M.J.H. (Editor in Chief), Encyclopedia of Immunobiology, Vol. 2, pp. 115–125. Oxford: Academic Press, 2016.

  • Litzler LC, Methot SP, Patenaude AM, Zahn A, Di Noia JM#. Cell-based Assays to Monitor AID Activity. Bioprotocol 2016; 6(3): e1724.

  • Methot SP, Litzler LC, Trajtenberg F, Zahn A, Robert F, Pelletier J, Buschiazzo A, Magor BG, Di Noia JM#. Consecutive interactions with HSP90 and eEF1A1 underlie a functional maturation and storage pathway of AID in the cytoplasm. J. Exp. Med. 2015, 212:581-596.

  • Montamat-Sicotte D, Litzler LC, Abreu C, Safavi S, Zahn A, Orthwein A, Müschen M, Oppezzo P, Muñoz DP, Di Noia JM#. HSP90 inhibitors decrease AID levels and activity in mice and in human cells. Eur J Immunol. 2015, 45:2365-76.

  • Collin R, Dugas V, Chabot-Roy G, Salem D, Zahn A, Di Noia JM, Rauch J, Lesage S. Autoimmunity and antibody affinity maturation are modulated by genetic variants on mouse chromosome 12. J Autoimmun. 2015, 58:90-9.

  • Zahn A*, Eranki AK*, Patenaude AM, Methot SP, Fifield H, Cortizas EM, Foster P, Imai K, Durandy A, Larijani M, Verdun RE, Di Noia JM#. Activation induced deaminase C-terminal domain links DNA breaks to end protection and repair during class switch recombination. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014, 111(11):E988-E997.

  • Zahn A, Daugan M, Safavi S, Godin D, Cheong C, Lamarre A, Di Noia JM#. Separation of function between isotype switching and affinity maturation in vivo and circulating autoantibodies in UNG-deficient mice. J immunol. 2013;190:5949-60.

  • Cortizas EC, Zahn A, Hajjar ME, Patenaude AM, Di Noia JM. Verdun RE. Alternative End Joining and Classical-NHEJ Pathways Repair Different Types of Double Strand Breaks During Class Switch Recombination. J immunol. 2013;191:5751-63.

  • Orthwein A, Zahn A, Methot S, Godin D, Conticello SG, Terada K and Di Noia JM#. Optimal functional levels of Activation Induced Deaminase specifically require the Hsp40 DnaJa1. EMBO J 2012; 31: 679-91.

Poorani Ganesh Subramani (MSc student @ McGill U, Div of Experimental Medicine)

Ganesh did his undergraduate studies at McGill, where he graduated as BSc with an interdepartmental honours in immunology in may 2014 and joined the lab as Master's student registered at the Division of Experimental Medicine, McGill University. He is identifying factors that interact and regulate AID and antibody diversification.


  • Lin YH, Liang Y, Wang HC, Tung J, Forster M, Subramani PG, Di Noia JM, Clare S, Langlais D, Nijnik A. Regulation of B lymphocyte development by histone H2A deubiquitinase BAP. Frontiers in Immunology 2021 doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.626418.

  • Methot SP*, Litzler LC*, Subramani GP, Eranki A, Fifield H, Patenaude A-M, Gilmore JC, Santiago GE, Bagci H, Côté J-F, Larijani M, Verdun RE, Di Noia JM. A licensing step links AID to transcription elongation for B cell mutagenesis. Nature Communications, 2018, 9(1):1248. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03387-6.

  • Rodríguez-Cortez, VC, Martínez-Redondo P, Català-Moll F, Rodríguez-Ubreva J, Garcia-Gomez A, Subramani GP, Ciudad L, Hernando H, Pérez-García A, Company C, Urquiza JM, Ramiro AR, Di Noia JM, Vaquero A, Ballestar E. Activation-induced cytidine deaminase targets SUV4-20-mediated histone H4K20 trimethylation to class-switch recombination sites. Scientific Reports. 2017, 7, 553.

Jana Ridani (MSc student, McGill University, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine)

Graduated from the Lebanese University in Tripoly, Lebanon with a Bachelor's degree in Life and earth sciences, Jana same back to Montréal, where she was born for graduate studies. She joined the lab in late 2018 and is investigating the regulation of AID by protein-protein interactions.

Kiersten Dionne (PhD student, McGill University, Department of Microbiology and Immunology)

Kiersten comes from bilingual New Brunswick, graduating as a Bachelor on Science from University of Moncton. After a productive M.Sc. in biochemistry at the Université de Sherbrooke with Dr F Bachand, Kiersten joined us in the fall of 2018 and s now studying the role of AID in B cell biology during antibody responses.


  • Safavi S, Larouche A, Zahn A, Patenaude A-M, Domanska D, Dionne K, Rognes T, Dingler F, Kang S-K, Liu Y, Johnson N, Hébert J, Verdun RE, Rada CA, Vega F, Nilsen H, Di Noia JM#. The uracil-DNA glycosylase UNG protects the fitness of normal and cancer B cells expressing AID. NAR Cancer, 2020, 2(3),

Noé Seija-Desivo (MSc student, Molecular and Cellular Medicine option, Molecular Biology program, Université de Montréal)

Noé graduated from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of the Republic, in Montevideo, Uruguay. He obtained an MSc investigating the effects of AID in Chronic Lymphoid Leukemia at the Institut Pasteur de Montevideo. He is now interested in the mechanisms targeting AID to the Ig genes and off-targets.


  • Feng Y.*, Seija N.*, Di Noia JM# and Martin A# (2020) AID in Antibody Diversification: There and Back Again. Trends Immunol., 41, 586–600.

  • Feng Y, Li C, Stewart JA, Barbulescu P, Seija-Desivo N, Álvarez-Quilón A, Pezo RC, Perera MLW, Chan K, Tong AHY, Mohamad-Ramshan R, Berru M, Nakib D, Li G, Kardar GA, Carlyle JR, Moffat J, Durocher D, Di Noia JM, Bhagwat AS, Martin A. FAM72A antagonizes UNG2 to promote mutagenic repair during antibody maturation. Nature 2021 600(7888):324-328. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-04144-4

Paul Donnelly (Interdepartamental honours in immunology program, McGill University)

After a short internship in the summer of 2019, Paul came back in September 2019 to do a research project for the interdepartmental immunology honours program at McGill, investigating molecular mechanisms that regulate the germinal center reaction.

Silvana Ferreira (Postdoctoral fellow)

Silvana is a biologist from Argentina. She received her PhD from the University of Buenos Aires, studying the effect of hormones on uterine function. She joined the lab in February 2020 to dissect novel signalling pathways in activated and germinal center B cells.

Michael Slattery (Honour's student)

Currently finishing a Bac at McGill University, Michael is doing the research project for the Honour's program of the department of microbiology and immunology. Michael is studying common aspects of germinal center B cells and B cell lymphoma cells.

Marcelo M Rodriguez (Postdoctoral Fellow)

Marcelo has a degree in genetics from the National University of Misiones, and a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from Austral University, in Argentina. Marcelo is studying how deaminases influence cancer cell biology.