Sunday, 17th December 2017

Overview

The department of Cell Biology and Immunology (CBI) gathers 20 groups interested in studying molecular mechanisms of mammalian cell organization and function. The research groups that compose the CBI share common experimental approximations, technologies and an interest in a limited set of cell processes: differentiation, motility, polarity, cell-cell interaction and signal transduction. The CBI’s research activities are structured around two major areas of research interest: the immune system and cell processes. The groups interested in the immune system tackle various fundamental aspects including how immune cells differentiate from hematopoietic precursors, how immune cells interact with parasites and viruses and the processes of antigen presentation and antigen recognition. The encounter with the antigen and the resulting activation of intracellular signaling pathways is also studied and compared with other cell systems. The groups studying cell processes focus on dissecting the molecular mechanisms that govern cell polarization, intracellular trafficking of proteins, cell adhesion and cell migration. These processes are studied in immune cells, epithelial cells and the endothelium. An important part of the CBI is dedicated to the T cell as a model system: T cell development and its perturbation during malignant transformation, mechanisms of antigen presentation by MHC molecules linked to arthropathies, antigen presentation of viral proteins and mechanisms of cyotoxic T cell killing, mechanisms of T cell adhesion and its regulation by tetraspanins, and T cell receptor signaling mechanisms influencing differentiation to pro-inflammatory effector T cells. Viruses and intracellular protozoa affecting inflammation and causing cardiac damage are also being investigated as models of perturbation of the immune system. Interestingly, inflammation and the cardiovascular system are also approached from the side of endothelial cells and signaling mechanisms, with repercussions on diabetes and obesity. Finally, the cytoskeleton, the polarization of epithelial cells, intracellular vesicular transport, and the loss of epithelial features during epithelial-to-mesenchimal transition and its impact on fibrosis and cancer metastasis are being actively investigated. The research carried out in the CBI has a clear translational angle, applying to cancer, inflammation and autoimmune diseases.