Identification of key viral and host factors modulating rhinovirus and enterovirus pathogenicity
Rhinoviruses (RV) and enteroviruses (EV) are leading causes of infections in humans. Although closely related within the Enterovirus genus of the Picornaviridae family, they are characterized by an important genetic variability, illustrated by the existence of more than 250 different types. This genetic heterogeneity is paralleled by an important phenotypic diversity. RV infection is mostly restricted to the respiratory tract, whereas EV can cause viremia, spread to multiple body sites, and have been associated with over 20 clinically recognized syndromes, ranging from common cold to encephalitis.
Our research group explores the pathogenic diversity of RV and EV. Using molecular, cellular and biochemical tools, we aim to determine and characterize the genetic factors that underlie clinically relevant phenotypic traits, such as virulence and neurotropism. Furthermore, we use three-dimensional human airway epithelia as models to study interactions between RV and hosts, or between RV and other respiratory pathogens. This area of research is essential in the perspective of development of antivirals and/or vaccine against these highly common infectious agents.