Labex EPIGENMED Montpellier, France

From genome and epigenome to molecular medicine

The Labex's 5 scientific axes

Labex axes

 

Axis 1: Genome and Epigenome

Leaders: Robert Feil and Bernard De Massy

Covalent modifications on the DNA and the proteins that organise the chromatin are stably maintained in specific cell lineages and tissues. These modifications together constitute the epigenome and modulate nuclear functions. This Axis explores genomic and epigenomic regulation and unravels their importance in cellular identity, development and human disease. It brings together twelve teams who investigate diverse biological functions, including chromosome compaction, DNA replication, meiotic recombination, DNA damage repair, gene expression and RNA processing.

 

Axis 2: Cell Cycle, Cell Fate and Development

Leaders: Simonetta Piatti and Martine Simonelig

The obvious connections between cell cycle and tumour progression have been largely explored during the past 30 years, providing the bases for the design of effective therapeutic strategies. It is now becoming increasingly clear that regulation of the core cell cycle machinery has a key role also in cell differentiation and metazoan development.

Besides responding to external stimuli, such as nutrition, cell cycle regulators can themselves influence metabolic processes, which makes them potential therapeutic targets also for metabolic disorders, such as obesity and diabetes.

Goal of this axis is to uncover the molecular mechanisms at the heart of cell cycle and development using a multidisciplinary and multitask approach, with the future perspective to identify new prognostic markers and potential therapeutic targets for the cure of cancer, developmental and metabolic diseases.

 

Axis 3: Infection and Immunity

Leaders: Monsef Benkirane and Naomi Taylor

The goal of Infection and Immunity axis is to elucidate the intimate host-pathogen interactions occurring during the pathogen life cycle and to investigate unconventional pathways/approaches that will ultimately lead to optimal immune responses against invading pathogens. We aim at:

1- Better understand the strategies used by pathogens to invade and to survive within organisms and cells; these include cell recognition, adherence of cell surfaces and intercellular bridging

2- Unravel pathogen strategies for spreading throughout the organism

3- Identify host defenses against pathogens with a particular emphasis on metabolic alterations

4-Enhance adaptive and memory immune responses to pathogens, with a specific interest in clinically relevant cytokine therapies and strategies aimed at modulating antigen presenting cells (DC)

5- Further the elucidation of host-pathogen molecular interactions to identify new vulnerabilities of the pathogen

6- Characterize the variability of pathogen diversity and resistance in order to explore the possible functional consequences on the host genome

 

Axis 4: Integrating Systems in Neuroscience

Leaders: Laurent Fagni and Christian Hamel

One of the most important challenge of this XXIst century will be the discovery of efficient therapies against neurological disorders. To this end, a reasonable strategy is to improve our understanding of sensory organs and brain functions and dysfunctions. We follow this strategy and focus on neurodegenerative diseases of genetic and epigenetic origin, with the objective to unravel the molecular and cellular substrates that are responsible for neuronal cell death. We use a multi-scale approach with genetic and cellular analyses, in animals and human. We will generate new transgenic animal models and bioactive molecules. Thus we believe that our work will contribute to the discovery of novel, customized and more efficient therapeutic treatments. 

 

Axis 5: Biophysics and Systems Biology

Leaders: Pierre-Emmanuel Milhiet and Emmanuel Margeat

Our main objectives are to characterize and better understand the physical mechanisms underlying bio-molecular function using multi-scale approaches, from individual molecules to the cell. We are using and developing ensemble and single molecule biophysics techniques as well as multi-scale modelling of the biological processes (systems biology) to take into account the stochasticity and complexity of biological functions. We are also developing multifunctional peptide-based systems for in vivo targeted-delivery of therapeutic molecules.

 

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