UMR3666/U1143 – Cellular and Chemical Biology

News of the unit

The teams of Ludger Johannes of the Institut Curie and Daniel Gillet of the CEA, with their collaborators, have uncovered the mechanism of action of a molecule that can neutralize the deleterious effect of a large number of pathogens, including toxins from enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli, the Ebola virus, or cholera toxin. These results, published on 17 February 2020 in Nature Chemical Biology, pave the way for the development of a broad-spectrum drug. Press release

The German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the oldest scientific society in the world still in discontinued operation, now has a new member: Ludger Johannes, Unit Director at the Research Centre at Institut Curie.

Ludger Johannes, research director at the French biomedical research institute INSERM and already a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), has just joined Leopoldina, a prestigious scholarly society. This institution, which has been in existence for more than 350 years, has been recognized since 2008 as the only German Academy of Sciences.

In addition to occasional conferences and the organization of scientific events, Leopoldina members are called upon to actively participate in working groups that deal in an interdisciplinary manner with current social and political issues.
New members are chosen by the senior members. List of member


Ludger Johannes (PhD) is Research Director (DRE) at INSERM. Since the beginning of his biochemistry undergraduate studies in 1987, he is member of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes (German organization of the academically gifted), since 1993 of Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, since 2012 of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), and since 2019 of the German Academy of Science — Leopoldina. Between 2001 and 2013, he directed the Traffic, Signaling and Delivery Team in the Cell Biology Department (UMR144 CNRS) of Institut Curie. Since January 2014, he is heading the Cellular and Chemical Biology unit (U1143 INSERM — UMR3666 CNRS). His research aims at establishing fundamental concepts of endocytosis and intracellular trafficking. The Johannes team has made two major contributions in this context: the discovery of a membrane trafficking interface between early endosomes and the Golgi apparatus, and the demonstration that dynamic lectin-induced glycosphingolipid reorganization acts as a driving force for endocytic pit construction in clathrin-independent endocytosis. These studies are very well cited and have been published in several highly visible journals, including Cell, Nature, Nature Cell Biology, and Nature Nanotechnology. Between 2014-2020, he was the holder of an ERC advanced grant. He also aims at exploiting his discoveries in fundamental membrane biology research for the development of innovative cancer therapy strategies. His team has validated the B-subunit of Shiga toxin (STxB) as a “pilot” for the delivery of therapeutic compounds to precise intracellular locations of dendritic cells and tumors (12 patent families, 5 of which are delivered in the US, Europe and other countries; creation of biotech companies). Ludger Johannes serves on editorial boards of several international journals (including PLoS One and Traffic). His team is member of excellence initiative Cell(n)Scale.

Raphaël Rodriguez receives the Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award

This young chemist working on cancer biology was awarded with the 2019 Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award, a prestigious international prize dedicated to chemists aged under 40 for their exceptional creativity. He thus becomes the first French scientist to receive this award.

Raphaël Rodriguez, CNRS research director, joined Institut Curie in early 2015 to add a biological focus to his research. “As a chemist, I have a great deal to learn from biologists and physicians at Institut Curie,” explains the head of the Chemistry and Biology of Cancer team (Institut Curie/CNRS/Inserm/PSL). “I hope that I will also be able to make our contribution to the overall structure.” Also in 2015, he received funding from Europe in the form of an ERC Consolidator grant, allowing him to pursue his research on small molecules that target lyosomal iron and regulation of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition by iron in the chromatin.
In May 2014, Raphaël Rodriguez’ team, at the time at the Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles of the CNRS, synthesized a small molecule – remodelin – that can correct the faults in the chromatin structure observed in cellular ageing by targeting acetyl-transferase NAT10.

As a chemist, I have a great deal to learn from biologists and physicians at Institut Curie

Today, he and his team are developing various techniques – such as imaging of small molecules, high-throughput sequencing and proteomics – to explore the action mechanisms of these small molecules on tumor stem cells; this work earned him the title “Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry” in 2018.
Raphaël Rodriguez successfully combines basic knowledge with progress in biomedical research, and as he reminds us: “This focus on translational research is only possible in institutions such as Institut Curie that combine a Research Center with a Hospital Group.”

It was these achievements that led the editors of the historic chemistry journal Tetrahedron, from Elsevier, to award Raphaël Rodriguez the eponymous award in the Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry category.

News submitted by Céline Giustranti,
Responsable de la Communication externe – Siège

A young researcher of Christophe Lamaze’s team honored for her communication skills.

Researchers must be able to explain and present their work. A “plus” for her career that has already mastered Stephanie Torrino who just received the Helen Stark award for the best scientific communication at the young researchers congress from the ARC.