Cellular Microbiology and Physics of Infection

Head of Team








Recent events have highlighted that infectious diseases still pose a significant threat to human health and the outlook for climate change is worrying for possible new risks. The research effort on infectious agents is underpinned by emerging pathogens, also by the threats of epidemics and pandemics responsible for high morbidity and mortality rates. Also, the possibility of using pathogenic microorganisms as agents of bio-terrorism strengthens the development of new effective therapeutic strategies. Finally, the importance of the microbiota opens up new perspectives for improving the fight against certain infections and in particular also for longevity.
We are interested in the early stages of infection at the molecular and cellular levels. Our research focuses on the cellular mechanisms hijacked by pathogens to adhere to and invade host cells. The pathogens have developed numerous strategies to usurp the host's molecular machinery in order to evade the immune response and to ensure effective infection. Autophagy is a ubiquitous process involved in many phenomena including immunity. Certain pathogens divert this mechanism to develop their replicative niche, to obtain a source of membranes and nutrients. We want to understand these mechanisms by studying pathogens such as norovirus or enteric and respiratory bacteria, even bacterial toxins, which develop different strategies targeting this cellular process.
The relationships between autophagy and probiotics and in particular lactic acid bacteria are still poorly understood and we are therefore exploring this new scientific field.
We are developing an interdisciplinary approach combining bacterial genetics, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry and biophysics to study how pathogens interact with the host's cell surface, how the cell responds to this attack and how pathogens hijack this response. The goal is to identify new molecular targets to develop new therapeutic tools that will be used to inhibit infection.
In particular, we are interested in the mechanical properties of membranes. How can they regulate the molecular interactions influencing the cellular response during an intercellular interaction between a microbe and a host cell? To do this, we have developed technological tools based on nanosciences and in particular near-field microscopy and super-resolution biophotonic microscopy, including in correlation. We use atomic force microcopy (AFM) in force spectroscopy studies to measure interactions between single molecules, for elasticity measurements of living cells or tissues. Fluorescence nanoscopy approaches can identify molecules in cells. We have thus established for the first time the triple correlation measurement between the microscopy modes, the Stiffness tomography to measure the elasticity of intracellular elements, and the automation of measurements in AFM in a robust way with correlation and elasticity measurements. . Within European consortia, we are also developing standardization methods on cells and tissue.
The team welcomes biologists, doctors, pharmacists and physicists. Members are involved in teaching and scientific popularization. We enjoy hosting invited scientists for series of experiments or to collaborate for synergistic exchanges, so do not hesitate to contact us and come and discuss around dishes (including vegans) to discuss Science, biodiversity preservation or the latest sports results !!!