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Virology Departement

Leader : Yves GAUDIN

The department carries out research in the domain of fundamental virology. The two main axes of research are structural virology and cellular virology (host-virus interactions).The research is focused on three transverse themes which are “Mechanisms of viral entry”, “Viral assembly and intracellular transport of viral particles” and “innate immunity”.

General presentation

The I2BC Department of Virology hosts six research groups. Two main axes of research are developed. The first one is host-virus interactions. The teams involved work on the identification of cellular factors targeted by viral proteins and on the characterization of their interactions. These studies are central to determine functions of the host that are hijacked by the virus during cell infection.

The second topic is determining the atomic structure of macromolecular complexes assembled in the course of a viral infection. These projects combine X-ray crystallography and structural electron microscopy. They require the determination of the conditions which allow trapping assembly reaction intermediates amenable to structural analyses. The ultimate goal of this interdisciplinary approach is to provide a molecular description of the dynamics of viral structures at different essential steps of the viral cycle (icosahedral virus assembly, fusion of viral and cellular membranes, viral genome encapsidation and ejection, etc) at a molecular level.

Viruses studied in the Department are either important pathogens (rabies virus, flavivirus, herpesvirus, rotavirus) or excellent models for the precise dissection of different steps of the viral cycle (bacteriophage SPP1 and T5, vesicular stomatitis virus).

The department is focusing its research on three tranverse themes, investigated with several viral models. The first is “Mechanisms of viral entry”. This theme is addressed on viruses infecting eukaryotes, bacteria and archaea and has led to several high-profile publications on the structure of the viral machineries involved in entry. The next objective is to determine how these machineries work in a cellular environment. The second theme is “Viral assembly and intracellular transport of viral and subviral particles” which is investigated both in vivo and in vitro. We aim to identify the host machineries hijacked by the virions for entry, for transport within the cell, for the assembly of the so-called viral factories, and for exit from the infected cell at the end of the virus multiplication cycle. The last theme, which is common to all the groups working on eukaryotic viruses, is “Innate immunity”. The first goal on this theme is to identify the way innate immunity is triggered upon viral infection and what are the signaling pathway involved. A second goal is to characterize the mechanisms evolved by viruses for counteracting innate defenses.

The research developed in the Department on host virus interactions is key in the identification of new viral targets in order to set up new therapeutic strategies against viral diseases. Furthermore, the determination of the atomic structure of viral proteins alone or in complex with some partners provides a rational basis for the design of small molecules interfering with viral functions.


1) Bacteriophages of Gram-Positive Bacteria - Paulo Tavares
2) Bacteriophage T5 – Pascale Boulanger
3) Cryo-electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography correlative structural virology – Jean Lepault
4) Rhabdoviruses - Yves Gaudin
5) Molecular Biology of Rotaviruses - Didier Poncet
6) Virulence and Latency of Herpes viruses - Audrey Esclatine

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