Research Projects

Main Research Topics

 

Breast milk oligosaccharides:

Breast milk provides nutrients and protective factors to the suckling infant. Milk oligosaccharides are a major fraction of breast milk, which act as prebiotic factors and as soluble receptors for pathogens, thereby averting intestinal infections. The rationale for the extensive structural diversity of milk oligosaccharides, reaching up to more than 200 distinct structures in human milk, remains however unclear. We investigate the roles of milk oligosaccharides in the development of the mucosal immune system and in promoting a healthy gut microbiota.

  

        

 

Biochemical Sciences

see also:

 

Collagen glycosylation:

Collagens are the most abundant proteins in animals. Collagens function as scaffold for tissues but also as regulators of processes such as cell adhesion, proliferation and differentiation. Collagens carry a specific type of glycosylation consisting of the disaccharide Glc(a1-2)Gal linked to hydroxylysine residues located in the tripeptide motifs Gly-x-y. Although collagen glycosylation is conserved from sponges to humans, the functional significance of this post-translational modification is still elusive. We characterize the role of collagen glycosylation by inactivating glycosyltransferase genes in cell lines and animal models.   

 

Giant virus glycosylation:

Mimiviridae are a group of giant viruses infecting amoeba. Mimiviridae feature large genomes that include genes encoding structural proteins and enzymes usually not found in viruses, such as aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, DNA repair enzymes, ion channels, and even glycosyltransferases. Several of these putative giant virus glycosyltransferases share sequence similarity with prokaryotic and eukaryotic proteins but their enzymatic activities and functional relevance are largely unknown. Our previous work has described a diverse group of O-linked glycans expressed at the surface of mimivirus. Our present effort focuses on the characterization of the glycosylation machinery of mimivirus in the context of the interaction with its host Acanthamoeba polyphaga.

 

Methodological approaches:

  • Protein expression in bacteria and insect cells (baculovirus system)
  • Lentivirus-mediated gene transfection
  • CRISPR/cas9 mediated gene disruption in cell lines and animal models
  • Flow cytometry
  • In situ hybridization and histochemistry
  • HPLC-based carbohydrate analysis
  • Mass spectrometry-based glycoproteomic analysis