Our research group studies the dynamics of viral envelope proteins to address key open question in molecular virology on 1) the conformational changes that drive virus/receptor interaction and virus entry; 2) how the cellular environment triggers viral fusion and 3) virus egress; 4) which are the molecular determinants of virus interactions with neutralizing antibodies.
Viruses carry their cycle by infecting target cells following specific steps as entry, replication and egress. This impact the host locally and systemically. Several human pathogens are enveloped viruses that expose at their surface fusion proteins in a metastable, pre-fusion conformation. Upon interaction with the target cell, the pre-fusion protein is triggered to change into a post-fusion state, exposing a hydrophobic region (fusion loop) that mediates fusion of the viral membrane with the host cell membrane. The mechanism regulating these transitions are still unknown. Our major aim is to understand the dynamics driving these changes and identify targets to block this important step of virus infection. We use a combination of techniques including structural approaches, mainly cryo-EM – both Single Particle Analysis (SPA) or cryo-tomography (cryo-ET) – with functional assays (work in BSL3, fusion and neutralization assays, single particle fluorescence microscopy) to identify the molecular determinants driving the changes the viral fusion proteins undergo.
Our favorite viruses are Flaviviruses including yellow fever virus, dengue, Zika and West Nile. We also study SARS-CoV-2 and Rotavirus (see our photo gallery for some cool images!).
This is us
We are an international group enjoying life in France and our different backgrounds
We support gender and life/work balance. We enjoy hosting visiting students and PIs (see our section “Our favorite guests”).
Juan Manuel Battagliotti (The Juan and only)
My name is Juan Manuel, and I am a postdoctoral researcher from Santa Fe, Argentina. I am excited to have the opportunity to introd
uce myself and share a little bit about my interests and work.
During my Ph.D. studies, I wo
rked on the development of a new generation vaccine candidate for hepatitis B. This experience taught me a great deal about the complexities of viral diseases and how we can develop effective treatments to combat them. Currently, I am working on the structural characterization of the Yellow Fever Virus. My research involves a variety of techniques, including cryoEM, an exciting technique that allows us to study the structure of viruses at a high resolution. By understanding the virus’s structure, we can identify potential targets for drug development and better understand how the virus interacts with host cells.
In my free time, I enjoy watching sports, drinking mate, and spending time with friends. Mate is a traditional Argentine beverage that is often shared among friends and family, and I find it to be a great way to connect with others.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me better, and I look forward to connecting with you and learning from your experiences as well.
Max Baker (King Max)
I am Max Baker, a postdoc in the group. I work on understanding the structure of rotaviruses, and how they can be neutralised by novel antibodies. I am also interested in cryo-ET, and understanding how viruses assemble within cells. I studied for my PhD at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia, looking at how viruses use amyloid-based strategies for evading the host immune system. I moved to Pasteur to explore the world of cryo-EM, and the life of Paris. When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy reading, watching films, cooking and hiking.
Jolyn Ooster (Our Cadet)
My name is Jolyn and I am a Dutch MSc student in the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree ‘Infectious Diseases and One Health’. Before starting my MSc program, I obtained two undergraduate degrees in (medical) biology and in sustainability. The interface between both degrees increased my interest in the field of One Health. I am particularly interested in mosquito-borne diseases. Within the FlavImmunity group I focus on epitope mapping – with polyclonal antibodies – on yellow fever virus and its E protein using cryo-EM. I am excited to learn and discover more about cryo-EM, structural virology, and yellow fever virus. Right now, I’m enjoying my time as a MSc student in the structural virology unit at Institut Pasteur and living in Paris; where I like to visit cultural sites, bike around the city, practice photography, and enjoy pains au chocolat aux amandes.
Sina Sommer (Busy Bee)
My name is Sina. I am a PhD student in this research group focusing on SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. I was interested in biology from a very early age, which led me to study biology at the Freie Universität Berlin. Thereby I discovered my passion and curiosity for virology. Since then, I worked on various topics in virology, including adeno-associated viruses (Charité Berlin; 2020), Sars-CoV-2 (Institut Pasteur; 2021), and Chikungunya (Charité Berlin; 2021/2022).
In the next three years I will be working on structural and biophysical studies of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein using cryo-EM and X-Ray. To create an overall picture, we are trying on combining these structural differences with functional aspects, such as fusion kinetics.
Outside of the lab, I enjoy playing badminton, listening to and playing music, and trying to explore the world a little more each year.
Our favorite hosts
We have a long lasting collaboration with the laboratories of Prof. Anne Krug and Prof. Simon Rothenfusser from LMU Munich. We enjoy periodic visits from students working in their lab. At the moment we are hosting PhD students Linus Rinke and Helen Stirling.
Helen Stirling Linus Rinke
In the News
Our outreach activity:
Interviews: 2020 RTL Podcast « La longue quête du vaccin contre la fièvre jaune »
2016 The Atlantic “A surprising link between Zika and Dengue” https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/06/the-zika-dengue-link/488210/