Université de Strasbourg

A novel infection paradigm

Integrated Study of Parasitism from cell to organism in a novel paradigm of infection in the genetic model Drosophila melanogaster

USIAS Fellow: Dominique Ferrandon

Parasitism is inherent to life and represents one of the major forces that have shaped evolution. Parasitic diseases afflict much of mankind and our current knowledge is still too fragmentary to fight them efficiently. Drosophila, a fruit fly, has been studied for over a century and is at the origin of major discoveries in biology. While we understand the main principles of the immune responses that allow it to fight against bacterial, fungal or viral infections, our understanding of its defences against intracellular eukaryotic parasites is lacking.

This project will focus on infection models, both in cell culture and in the whole organism, of a Drosophila natural parasite, the microsporidium Tubulinosema ratisbonensis. This microorganism, which lies at the root of the fungal kingdom, has evolved with major adaptations to its intracellular parasitic lifestyle and has lost many metabolic pathways. For instance, it lacks the powerhouses of eukaryotic cells and steals its energy directly from its host.

The project aims to initiate a detailed study of parasitism at different levels of organizations, shuttling back and forth between the cellular and the organismal levels. A major aim will be to implement a genome-wide screen in cultured cells to identify the host genes required imperatively for the proliferation of the parasite. We shall use the all the power of Drosophila genetics to understand how the host copes with its selfish guest at the metabolic and energy levels, a situation reminiscent of cancer-afflicted organisms.

 

Investissements d'Avenir