531, boulevard des Prairies
Laval (Québec) H7V 1B7
My main research interest is to understand the role of translational control in infectious diseases. During the infection process there is a constant interplay between the host and the pathogen that determines the outcome of the disease. In my laboratory, we investigate: (i) how the pathogen modulates the translation machinery of the host in order to survive, and (ii) how translational control influences the development of an efficient immune response to an infectious agent. Understanding how cell and, ultimately, patient immune responses are regulated will contribute to identify new potential points of therapeutic intervention.
1) Translational control during Leishmania infection
We demonstrated for the first time that translational control is involved in the progression of a parasitic infection (cutaneous leishmaniasis) and that a protozoan parasite, Leishmania, can inhibit the translation initiation machinery of the macrophage, its host cell. We are currently identifying the mRNAs (e.g. microbicidal, pro-inflammatory), which are targeted in Leishmania-infected macrophages at the translational level. We also aim to identify the translation factors and the underlying intracellular signals involved in the immune response to Leishmania, using cellular and knock-out mouse models. Based on our work, regulators of translation might emerge as potential targets with therapeutic applications against leishmaniasis. Importantly, our findings raise the possibility that translational control also participates in infections caused by other protozoan parasites (e.g. Trypanosoma cruzi) and intracellular bacteria (e.g. Salmonella). To explore this possibility, we are currently developing collaborative projects with experts in various infectious models.
2) Molecular mechanisms of macrophage translational activation by Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide
The Gram-negative bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is one of the most potent inducers of inflammatory and antimicrobial responses in a number of immune cells, including macrophages. However, the implication of translational control in macrophage activation by LPS has been poorly studied. Our preliminary data indicate that LPS triggres a stronger inflammatory response in absence of the translational repressor 4E-BP1. We are currently investigating whether LPS regulates macrophage de novo protein synthesis and whether this occurs at the translation initiation step. Next, we will identify the mRNAs whose translation is enhanced by LPS and we will elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved. Altogether, our data will help to define the contribution of translational control (versus transcriptional regulation) to the inflammatory and antimicrobial effects mediated by LPS.