Cellular Microbiology and Physics of Infection


Team Leader:

Frank LAFONT

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According to the WHO 2005 world report, infectious diseases constitute the second leading cause for human mortality. New emerging pathogens and threat of outbreaks responsible of epidemic and pandemic leading to high rate of morbidity and mortality reinforce the research effort devoted to infectious agents. Also, the possibility of using pathogens for bioterrorism actions implies the development of new efficient therapeutic strategies.

We are interested in understanding the early steps of infection at the molecular and cellular levels. Our research focuses on the mechanisms hijacked by pathogens to interact and possibly invade the host cells. Pathogens have evolved many strategies to subvert molecular machineries of the host to escape immune response and manage a successful invasion.

We want to develop an interdisciplinary approach combining bacterial genetics, microbiology, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry and biophysics to investigate how pathogens interact with the host cell surface, how the cell responds to this attack and how pathogens subvert this response. The aim is to identify new therapeutic targets and to design new tools in order to inhibit infection.
We define our research along two main axis including specific technological developments and use of different experimental systems allowing to tackle several aspects involved in the early stages of infection
Our working hypothesis is that viscoelastic properties of biological membranes participate to the regulation of the activation of signalling complexes in response to a stimulus. We choose as stimulus the host-pathogen interaction, which exacerbates the cell response. The signalling pathway selected is that of the autophagy. The methodology that we develop is based on correlative approach between force spectroscopy, electron and photonic super-resolution microscopies.


For more information visit our lab website.