An ambitious EC-funded research initiative on epigenetics advancing towards systems biology 61

Epigenetics and Cell Fate , CNRS / Université Paris Diderot, Paris, France

Studying host-parasite interactions to explore cancer epigenomes

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Our laboratory focuses on understanding the genetic and epigenetic events that contribute to the phenotypes of cancer cells. We are particularly interested in understanding the molecular features that define the identity of tumor cells and how cellular transformation might be reversed as a therapeutic strategy. While much is known about the irreversible genetic changes involved in cancer initiation and progression, there is increasing interest in the reversible epigenetic modifications associated with tumorigenesis. To address issues of phenotypic plasticity in transformed cells, we study a lymphoproliferative disease induced by the intracellular protozoan parasite, Theileria. Theileria is the only eukaryotic parasite known to induce a cancer phenotype; namely, uncontrolled host cell proliferation, immortalization and invasion. In contrast to most transformation processes, which involve permanent mutations, this tumor phenotype is halted by treatment with the theilericidal drug, Buparvaquone, which kills the parasite and blocks cell proliferation and metastasis. Theileria transformation thus offers a unique system to study signaling and epigenetic mechanisms underlying tumor cell phenotypes.

The interaction between two eukaryotic genomes provides a fascinating example of co-evolution of host-parasite interactions. Two genomes, two epigenomes, two cellular systems – living together in a harmonious relationship. We feel this makes a valuable contribution to understanding the link between signalling and the epigenome.

Latest publications

Host-parasite interactions: an intimate epigenetic relationship.

26096716 – 2015-06-23
Cell Microbiol 2015 Aug;17(8):1121-32
Cheeseman K, Weitzman JB

Lost in post-translation.

25882226 – 2015-04-18
EMBO Rep 2015 Jun;16(6):671
Putois O, Villa F, Weitzman JB

[Pin1: a multi-talented peptidyl prolyl cis-trans isomerase and a promising therapeutic target for human cancers].

25174754 – 2014-09-02
Med Sci (Paris) 2014 Aug-Sep;30(8-9):772-8
Marsolier J, Weitzman JBView all their publications

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