Université de Strasbourg

Benoît Marteyn

Biography - Benoît Marteyn

Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMC), RNA Structure and Reactivity (ARN), University of Strasbourg and CNRS

Benoît Marteyn, USIAS Fellow 2020

After graduating from the Agrocampus Ouest, Rennes (France) in 1998, Benoît Marteyn obtained his PhD degree at the University of Paris XI Orsay, in 2005. His work on environmental microbiology was supervised by Dr. Franck Chauvat at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA-Saclay).

He was awarded a fellowship from the Foundation for Medical Research (FRM) for a post-doctoral stay in the laboratory of Professor Christoph Tang at Imperial College London, United Kingdom, from 2006-2009. During his time there, he studied the role of oxygen in host-pathogen interactions, using Shigella as a model (Marteyn et al., 2010, Nature). Dr. Marteyn subsequently joined the laboratory of Professor Philippe Sansonetti, an internationally recognised Shigella expert, at the Pasteur Institut. He was appointed as an research scientist at Inserm – the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research - in 2014, and obtained his habilitation à diriger des recherches (accreditation to lead research)  from the Paris Descartes University in 2017.

A young researcher grant from the French National Research Agency (ANR) from 2017-2020 enabled Benoît Marteyn to form his own team in 2016. He joined Dr. Pascale Romby’s CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) unit within the Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMC) at the University of Strasbourg, and was subsequently appointed as an Inserm research director.

Benoît Marteyn’s laboratory focuses on research topics that range from fundamental microbiology to immunology, host-pathogen interaction and physiopathology centering on the central question of the role of oxygen in infectious processes.

Project – Oxygen-dependent regulation of Shigella secretion and neutrophil degranulation: impact on the infectious process

01/06/2020 - 31/05/2022

Infectious diseases remain the major cause of death in low-income countries. Bacterial infections are responsible for lower respiratory infections (3 million deaths/year), diarrheal diseases (1.4 million deaths/year) or tuberculosis (1.5 million deaths/year). The lack of a vaccine to protect against several harmful pathogenic bacteria is the main cause for this high fatality rate. The main objective of Benoît Marteyn’s team is to contribute to the development of a vaccine against Shigella, which is a pathogenic enterobacteria that causes bacillary dysentery or shigellosis (0.8 million deaths/year). Their projects are organised around three main axes: (1) to better understand the molecular bases of Shigella virulence and the innate immune response subversion, (2) to identify new Shigella vaccine candidates, and (3) to develop animal models of infection suitable for assessing their protection efficacy, which are still lacking.

More specifically, the team recently demonstrated that hypoxia is induced during the formation of Shigella foci of infection (Tinevez et al., 2019, Nature Microbiology), raising the question of the modulation of Shigella virulence and the immune response efficacy in the absence of oxygen. Neutrophils are the main group of immune cells recruited upon Shigella infection.

Benoît Marteyn’s team observed that a Shigella secretion system (T5SS, SPATEs) is upregulated in the absence of oxygen; in the same conditions, neutrophils secrete an antimicrobial cocktail mainly composed of degranulated proteins (proteases, antimicrobial molecules, etc..).

In this project, the team will characterise the oxygen-dependent modulation and functions of Shigella SPATE and neutrophil “secretome” and will determine their relative susceptibility upon interaction in vitro and in vivo. In the last part of the project, they plan to evaluate the interrelationship between neutrophil secretome studied for several years in the laboratory and Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs), consisting in DNA release associated with neutrophil cell-death, in relation with the level of available oxygen during Shigella infection.

Post-doc biography - Jūratė Skerniškytė

Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMC), RNA Structure and Reactivity (ARN), University of Strasbourg and CNRS

Jūratė Skerniškytė

Jūratė Skerniškytė obtained her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in biochemistry at Vilnius University (Lithuania) in 2012 and 2014, respectively. During this period, she carried out research on various pathogenic bacteria at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Vilnius University. She also took up the opportunity to work as a graduate assistant in the Division of Developmental Biology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (Ohio, USA) in 2013. She defended her thesis, entitled “Molecular mechanisms of Acinetobacter baumannii pathogenesis” at Vilnius University in 2019.

At the Life Sciences Center of Vilnius University, Jūratė Skerniškytė‘s research focused on a widespread nosocomial pathogen A. baumannii, with a particular focus on new virulence mechanisms that are associated with its resistance to antiobiotics and adhesiveness to host cells, using different genetic approaches. During this time she supervised the project “Macrophage inflammatory response to the outer membrane vesicles secreted by Acinetobacter baumannii” (2018-2019) funded by the Research Council of Lithuania (LMT). She furthermore taught biochemistry and molecular biology to undergraduate and graduate students, and worked within the center’s microfluidics unit. During her PhD, Jūratė Skerniškytė obtained a mobility grant that allowed her to visit the Micalis Institute (INRA, Jouy-en-Josas, France) for training in the study of bacterial biofilms formed by A. baumannii. Whilst at the institute she had the opportunity to do a study on the immunomodulatory properties of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, a bacteria that is present in human gut microbiota, and potentially related to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

In December 2020, Jūratė Skerniškytė’s joins Dr. Benoît Marteyn’s team at IBMC, to take up a post-doc position financed by USIAS.

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