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Barbara Papadopoulou


Centre du Recherche du CHUL

Université Laval
2705, boulevard Laurier, RC-709
Québec (Québec)
Tel:+1 418-525-4444, local 47608
Fax:+1 418-654-2715
barbara [dot] papadopoulou [at] crchul [dot] ulaval [dot] ca (Email)

Research Interests

Our main research program aims at identifying and characterizing the factors and the mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of intracellular parasites. The model system we actually used is the protozoan parasite Leishmania. Pathogenic Leishmania species cause a diverse group of diseases, collectively called leishmaniasis, that range in severity from spontaneously healing skin ulcers to fatal visceral disease. Leishmania are intracellular parasites, which reside almost exclusively within mononuclear phagocytes of the mammalian host. There are two developmental forms of Leishmania, the motile promastigote transmitted to humans by the sand fly and the non-motile amastigote in the vertebrate host. The ability of Leishmania amastigotes to surviving in the adverse milieu of the phagolysosome and evading the defense mechanisms induced by the host is the key to the successful infection mounted by this pathogen. Genes preferentially expressed in response to various intracellular stimuli should play a central role in parasite's survival within the host cell. As part of the ongoing work in my laboratory, which is funded mainly by CIHR and Burroughs Wellcome Fund, we have initiated studies on the identification of genes specifically expressed in Leishmania's intracellular stage. Novel genes and mechanisms related to stage-specific expression were identified. Our main research interest is to assess the function of genes and/or proteins that are predominantly expressed upon macrophage infection and to delineate the molecular mechanisms, which control their stage-specific expression and contribute to parasite pathogenesis. We propose to use a global strategy based on a combination of genomics (DNA microarrays) and proteomics studies to isolate genes/proteins predominantly expressed upon contact or growth within the host cell. Our studies are focused on the L. donovani species that are responsible for the most severe form of the disease, the visceral leishmaniasis. The completion of the L. major genomic sequence (September 2003) and the recent initiative for sequencing the L. infantum genome should speed gene identification and allow, within the coming years, the development and use of several functional genomic-related technologies for analyzing the expression and the function of genes upon different intracellular conditions.

The specific objectives of my research program are to:

  1. Identify genes/proteins of Leishmania donovani infantum that are specifically expressed upon parasite differentiation within the host macrophages
  2. Investigate the mechanism(s) involved in the regulation of genes specifically expressed in the intracellular stage of the parasite
  3. Study the function of genes important for parasite intracellular survival
  4. Develop novel strategies for vaccination against intracellular pathogens

Possible outcomes of the ongoing research program

The identification of genes expressed predominantly upon growth of the parasites in the mammalian host and the study of the mechanism(s) that control their stage-specific regulation are fundamental for our understanding on how intracellular pathogens survive within their host and build an infection. With the progress anticipated in the field of functional genomics and microbe genomic sequencing, we should be in a position to globally address gene/protein expression and function in the L. donovani species, but also to initiate similar studies in other microbial pathogens. Overall, these studies should increase our understanding of the mechanisms controlling the pathogenesis of Leishmania parasites and should eventually lead to the identification of interesting targets for the development of effective vaccines and new drugs.

Selected References

Baz M, Samant M, Zekki H, Tribout-Jover P, Plante M, Lanteigne AM, Hamelin ME, Mallett C, Papadopoulou B, Boivin G.
Effects of different adjuvants in the context of intramuscular and intranasal routes on humoral and cellular immune responses induced by detergent-split A/H3N2 influenza vaccines in mice.Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2012 Feb;19(2):209-18. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

Raymond F, Boisvert S, Roy G, Ritt JF, Légaré D, Isnard A, Stanke M, Olivier M, Tremblay MJ, Papadopoulou B, Ouellette M, Corbeil J.
Genome sequencing of the lizard parasite Leishmania tarentolae reveals loss of genes associated to the intracellular stage of human pathogenic species. Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Feb;40(3):1131-47. Epub 2011 Oct 13.

Mounir Z, Krishnamoorthy JL, Wang S, Papadopoulou B, Campbell S, Muller WJ, Hatzoglou M, Koromilas AE.
Akt determines cell fate through inhibition of the PERK-eIF2α phosphorylation pathway. Sci Signal. 2011 Sep 27;4(192):ra62.

Nazeri A, Sohawon S, Papadopoulou B, Georgala A, Dernier Y, Noordally SO.
A late complication of percutaneous radial artery cannulation. Acta Clin Belg. 2011 May-Jun;66(3):223-5.

Krokowski D, Gaccioli F, Majumder M, Mullins MR, Yuan CL, Papadopoulou B, Merrick WC, Komar AA, Taylor D, Hatzoglou M.
Characterization of hibernating ribosomes in mammalian cells. Cell Cycle. 2011 Aug 15;10(16):2691-702. Epub 2011 Aug 15.

Chow C, Cloutier S, Dumas C, Chou MN, Papadopoulou B.
Promastigote to amastigote differentiation of Leishmania is markedly delayed in the absence of PERK eIF2alpha kinase-dependent eIF2alpha phosphorylation. Cell Microbiol. 2011 Jul;13(7):1059-77. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2011.01602.x. Epub 2011 May 30.

Bolhassani A, Gholami E, Zahedifard F, Moradin N, Parsi P, Doustdari F, Seyed N, Papadopoulou B, Rafati S.
Leishmania major: Protective capacity of DNA vaccine using amastin fused to HSV-1 VP22 and EGFP in BALB/c mice model. Exp Parasitol. 2011 May;128(1):9-17. Epub 2011 Jan 26.

Publications - Barbara Papadopoulou