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Scientific project of our institute

Published on 13 January 2016

General Presentation of the Institute
Scientific project
Integrated functions of proteins
From living beings to nanotechnologies
Integrated functions of proteins

The ambition of our institute is to pair two strategies. Firstly, to describe proteins and their dynamics in order to analyze the diversity and complexity of living beings ; secondly, to replace proteins within their functional context in order to be able to find the link between genotype and phenotype. At the chemistry-biology and physics-biology interfaces, several of our projects aim to analyze the interactions of proteins with specific effectors. Other projects break down the integrated responses of living organisms faced with disturbances in their environmental conditions, or with stress. Finally, a large share of the Institute's projects concern the implementation of modelling and biomathematics strategies, in order, firstly, to integrate all of the data produced on a large scale (proteomics, high throughput RNA interference, etc.) and, secondly, to model the gene regulation networks or the metabolic networks in an iterative process that combines experimentation and modelling.

Analyzing the diversity and complexity of living beings

Our institute makes use of a set of analytical technologies (structural biology, spectroscopy, imaging, proteomics, etc…) in order to identify, measure, and locate proteins on their own scale (nanometric scale), to monitor their dynamics over time and in space and to understand interactions with their partners (DNA, proteins, metals, etc.). This work is necessarily multidisciplinary because tools used in physics make it possible to analyze processes that are studied both by chemists (the time scale in catalysis is the picosecond) and by cell biologists who monitor processes that take place over seconds or minutes. New tools and new concepts are necessary in order to make this link.

Linking genotype and phenotype

This involves reaching an understanding of the function of the proteins studied within the context of the cell or the organism that is subject to stress, particularly environmental stress. To replace the protein in its functional context, genetics (transgenesis, RNAi, etc.), large-scale approaches and modelling are necessary.

From living beings to nanotechnologies

Our laboratories identification of a more technological research focus point arose from the Cell Biology - New Technologies Interface program that has been developed over the last several years within the Institute. This program favors synergy between biologists, physicists, chemists, IT specialists, mathematicians and specialists in nano and microtechnologies. It is clearly situated at an interface with the CEA/DRT/DTBS teams. Finally, our institute is one of the units of the “Nanosciences: to the Limits of Nanoelectronics” Foundation. This Themed Advanced Research Network favors the finding of points of synergy in research, in order to get the best possible use out of each of the properties of a material on the scale of a nanometer.

Development of microsystems for biology

Several projects use various types of microsystems to study morphogenesis, or cell proliferation and differentiation. It is in this area of very small scale cell biology, using a small number of cells, whether they are identical or of different types, in 2D, 3D or organotypical culture, that our wishes to establish itself, develop its expertise and establish its specificity.
Another type of project is based on the use of the fibers obtained by self-assembly of proteins that are promising media for nanobiotechnologies. The objective is to make these fibers active: specific bonding of ligands, catalytic properties, electron transport..., by protein engineering methods. Once they have been made functional, these fibers will be used for the development of devices at the interface with living beings.

Methodological and technological developments concerning the platforms

The originality of our technology platforms is based on a systematic strategy of directly pairing technology platforms and research units. This strategy seems to be the best way to keep the methodologies and technologies implemented on the platforms at the highest level possible. It contributes greatly to the visibility of our institute. The BGE laboratory plays a central role in this, both in proteomics and in cell screening. In the case of imaging, Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence microscopy (TIRFm) has been used at our institute in order to study the dynamics of the cytoskeleton (actin filament) and of microtubules on a molecular scale (PCV). It has been possible to reconstruct and to produce a real time display of the stochastic dynamics of actin filaments. The objective is now to set up super-resolution fluoresence microscopy on site (PCV, collaboration with IBS).