Retroviral oncogenesis

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Research themes

According to the WHO, approximately 15% of human cancers are linked to an infectious etiology. Among virus-induced cancers, adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) is one the the most aggressive blood cancers: the median survival time does not exceed 6 months in the acute forms. This pathology is caused by a retrovirus discovered in 1982 and named human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). HTLV-1 is also the causative agent of the tropical spastic paraparesis, a neuroinflammatory disease. In HTLV-1-infected individuals, the long clinical latency prior to ATL onset (several decades) suggests that retroviral oncogenesis is a multi-step process, which our lab aims at understanding.

Our research themes are at the interface of virology, immunology and cancer cell biology, and involve approaches ranging from molecular and structural biology, biochemistry, proteomics, to cell biology and pharmacology.

We also benefit from a cohort of non-human primates naturally infected by STLV-1, the simian equivalent of HTLV-1 (in collaboration with the Station of Primatology of Rousset-sur-Arc), as well as from human samples (in collaboration with Pr Hermine, Necker Hospital, Paris, and the Dr Casseb, University of São Paulo, Brazil).

We develop four main research axes (see the “Projects and grants” section for additional details):

  • * Characterizing the mode of action of the viral oncoprotein Tax from HTLV-1.
    * Investigating the interactions between HTLV-1 and the innate immune system.
    * Identifying new inhibitors of viral replication.
    * Analysing the impact on viral replication of co-infection by multiple retroviruses