We want to understand in physical and molecular terms how cells talk to each other during development. This means our research is highly interdisciplinary: physics, cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics...Indeed some of us in the lab are biologists, other physicists, chemists, engineers.
We wish to understand the mechanisms that drive organelle biogenesis and maintenance — how organelle architecture controls functions — one of our main goals being to characterize the mechanisms that regulate the organization, dynamics and functions of endosomal membranes in human cells. We wish to further investigate the components, molecular assemblies and membrane domains that regulate intracellular membrane dynamics, and to investigate the principles that control the crosstalk between different mechanisms at the organellar level.
We are interested in membrane traffic in eukaryotic cells, especially clathrin-mediated endocytosis. We use a combination of various imaging approaches, genetics and biochemistry to gain quantitative understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the trafficking processes.
The main goal of our research is to understand the functions of membrane lipids in cell biology and physiology. To this end, we need to develop a comprehensive understanding about lipid distribution and homeostasis in cells and how these are regulated.
Many proteins interact transiently with lipids membranes within cells, and modify their shape and size. They can also fuse, break and modify the composition of these membranes. But membranes are very peculiar objects, as they are visco-elastic 2D fluids that can auto-seal if broken. We are interested in understanding how these special mechanical properties have constrained the way proteins remodel cellular membranes.
We dissect the cellular and molecular mechanisms of phagocytosis and their relevance to host-pathogen interactions. We use the social amoeba Dictyostelium as a model organism, a professional protozoan phagocyte very similar to mammalian macrophages, but genetically and biochemically tractable. Our major aims are to understand mechanisms of cell innate defenses against infection and dissemination of pathogenic mycobacteria, and to identify novel strategies and molecules to fight tubercular infections.
Cell-cell junctions are essential in the development and function of epithelial cells, since they mediate cell-cell adhesion, and play key signaling functions. The goal of our laboratory is to understand at the molecular level how cytoplasmic proteins of tight and adherens junctions (cingulin, paracingulin, PLEKHA7 and others) orchestrate cytoskeletal organization and gene expression, thus affecting morphogenesis and cell proliferation. We use biochemical approaches, and both cultured epithelial cells and knockout mice as model systems, to build a conceptual bridge from molecule to cell to organism.
Centriole is among the largest macromolecular complex of eukaryotic cells (500nm x 250nm) composed by hundreds of proteins and exhibits a remarkably conserved structure of nine microtubule triplets. The correct assembly of centrioles is crucial for the formation of centrosomes and cilia. Despites the vital role of centrioles, its structure is poorly known limiting our understanding of centriole assembly and function. Our lab is using a combination of methods such as biochemistry, cryo-tomography and image processing to unravel the centriole architecture at high resolution.
Mitochondria play a role in energy production and in a number of other essential cellular processes, including lipid and amino acid metabolism, the urea cycle, iron homeostasis and cell death. Our laboratory is interested in the mechanisms by which mitochondria participate in cell homeostasis. In particular we are studying how, during apoptosis, the outer mitochondrial membrane of mitochondria is permeabilized by proapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family such as Bax. Moreover, we are studying novel proteins that play a role in cell metabolism and in mitochondrial mRNA stability. Finally, through genetic studies in C. elegans, we investigate the mechanisms by which cells can resist to anoxia.
We have two research areas: (A) The in vivo functions of the Hsp90 molecular chaperone complex both in yeast and in the mouse. We study these biochemically, pharmacologically, genetically and in silico. We also investigate Trap1, a mitochondrial form of Hsp90. (B) The molecular mechanisms of signal transduction and integration by the estrogen receptor alpha at the cellular level and its implications for breast cancer.
Our studies focus on the process of mRNA biogenesis and export through nuclear pores, and the importance of nuclear architecture in gene expression. More recently, we have also become interested in the role of non-coding antisense RNAs in transcriptional gene silencing.
The long-term goal of our research is to understand cancer at the molecular level and then use this knowledge to develop novel cancer therapies. Because it is shared by many laboratories world-wide, there is considerable progress and hope for new effective therapies in the coming decades.
Division, accumulation of mass (growth) and death are all fundamental aspects of cell behaviour. All three processes are highly regulated and the loss of this regulation can have dire medical consequences. Although cell division and cell death have been studied for many years, the study of cell growth has until recently been neglected. Our long-term aim is to understand the regulation of eukaryote cell growth.
We are interested in the regulatory mechanisms underlying retina ontogenesis. For the past years, we have explored how the proneural proteins ATOH7 and NEUROGENIN 2 regulate the conversion of proliferating progenitor cells into differentiated neurons in the developing retina.
Our lab seeks to understand molecular mechanisms involved in piRNA biogenesis and its function in protecting the genome from instability.
Chromatin is the matrix that compacts and organizes the DNA of a eukaryotic cell, with the nucleosome being the basic repeating unit. Through its tight grip on DNA, chromatin acts as a primary gatekeeper to the underlying DNA sequence, thereby affecting many vital processes such as replication, gene expression and genome maintenance. Gaining insight into the structure of chromatin and the associated macromolecular machinery will significantly enrich our understanding of the mechanisms occurring in the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell.
Our general area of interest is the relationship between chromosome structure and the processes of gene regulation, DNA replication, repair and recombination, and chromosome segregation.
Our main research objective is to elucidate how nucleosome organization is related to chromatin function. We are particularly interested in the organization of centromeric chromatin and in the interplay between chromatin structure and gene expression during differentiation and development.
We are interested in the regulatory mechanisms underlying vertebrate pattern formation, in both developmental and evolutionary contexts. For the past years, we have focused on Hox genes, a family of transcription factors that display special paradigmatic values, regarding their regulatory strategies, their functional organization and their key roles in morphological evolution.
A fascinating, unanswered question in biology is how some organisms respond to injury by regenerating the missing body structure, whereas other have lost this potential. Here we propose to use the freshwater Hydra polyp as regeneration model organism to tackle this question.
Although it is now possible to engineer living organisms to express almost any gene in a controlled fashion, the mechanisms governing this control still remain elusive. In eukaryotes, genes are large, with regulatory elements often tens, or even hundreds of kilobases away from their target promoter.
We are combining Evolutionary Developmental Biology (EvoDevo) and the study of physical processes (Physics of Biology) to understand the mechanisms generating complexity and diversity in the living world. We specialise on non-classical model species in reptiles and mammals and we integrate data and analyses from comparative genomics, molecular developmental genetics, as well as computer modeling and numerical simulations. In a previous life, the core activities in my lab pertained to the production of experimental data and the development of tools and algorithms in Evolutionary Genetics (Conservation Genetics, Molecular Phylogenetics, and Applied Evolutionary Genetics).
We are conducting several research lines in animal evolution using molecular tools, from species formation and biogeography to evolutionary genomics and organismal adaptation.
How does the brain function and what causes brain dysfunction in diseases? To address these questions, we focus on the behavior generation — one of the most complex brain functions — and Parkinson’s disease, which is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder.
We use Drosophila and mice as model systems and a combination of molecular biology, genetics, and imaging techniques to understand the underlying mechanisms at the molecular, cellular and the neural circuit-levels.
We are interested in molecular evolution and ecology of protists, using genomic data to reconstruct their phylogenetic relations and assess their diversity.
We are interested in how mammals extract socially relevant information from the outside world, and how this information is translated into an adequate behavior. In order to gain insight into the logic of sensory perception, we study the vomeronasal circuit, a neuronal system involved in pheromone recognition that plays a crucial role in peer-mediated neuroendrocine effects and instinctive behaviors.
Our research focuses on plant metabolism, in particular the biochemistry and physiology behind vitamin biosynthesis and degradation and how these processes interact with other aspects of general primary plant metabolism. We also address aspects of stress physiology and how alteration of vitamin metabolism affects the response to abiotic stress responses.
Chloroplasts are the solar power stations of plant cells. These organelles harbor a network of internal membranes called thylakoids, where the photosynthetic complexes convert light energy into chemical energy. This is then used to produce metabolites such as sugars, which are derived from atmospheric carbon dioxide and water.
Signal perception at the cell surface and transduction of this signal to the cell’s interior is essential to all life forms. Plants have evolved membrane-integral receptor proteins and associated signaling cascades that drastically differ from the well-studied systems in animals. Our aim is to dissect these signaling pathways in mechanistic detail.
A second line of research, aims at uncovering the roles of linear phosphate polymers (inorganic polyphosphates) in plants, yeast and bacteria. We are interested where these polymers are located within a cell, how they are being synthesized/broken down and what’s their cellular function and physiological role.
Appearance of seeds is a major chapter in the history of plant evolution. Seeds are highly resistant and allow plants to travel in both space and time before germinating and developing into a young and fragile seedling. A corollary of this resistance is that seed germination is potentially life threatening. Unsurprisingly, germination control mechanisms appeared during evolution and our laboratory seeks to elucidate the molecular genetic mechanisms underlying them.
Associations between soil bacteria known as rhizobia and legume plants contribute significantly to the nitrogen cycle that sustains life on Earth. Our research covers two aspects of these symbioses: understanding the molecular mechanisms that allow promiscuous rhizobia to fix nitrogen inside many hosts, and screening wild or cultivated ecosystems for rhizobia with unusual properties.
Ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B) is a key environmental signal that is specifically perceived by plants to promote UV acclimation and survival in sunlight. The major aim of our laboratory is a better understanding of the UV-B perception and signalling mechanisms in plants.
We are a newly established chemical biology group at the Department of Organic Chemistry. Our research goal is to elucidate the physiological roles of poorly characterized mammalian enzymes by developing specific chemical tools, such as imaging probes and inhibitors, and apply them to study the enzyme activities in living systems. We also develop chemical strategies to study posttranslational modifications in vivo. We apply a broad repertoire of different technologies ranging from organic synthesis to cell biology and mass spectrometry-based proteomics and metabolomics.
We focus on developing therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) which target inflammatory diseases and immune-related disorders.
We recently developed a technology platform to create fully human bispecific antibodies that we are currently developing in the field of immuno-oncology.
Novimmune proposes a limited number of projects in the area of: