[927] Laboratory of Gynaecological Tumor and Development Biology

Placental physio/pathology

The placenta is a temporary organ established to ensure a continuous food and gas supply to the growing foetus. It is composed of maternal (endometrium) and fetal (trophoblastic villi) cells. These are the trophoblastic cells that are in direct contact with maternal blood or uterine cells. Trophoblastic cells differentiate into two distinct cell types: syncytiotrophoblast (ST) and extravillous trophoblast (EVT). EVT cells proliferate, migrate, invade the uterus and reshape its spiral arteries to feed the developing fetus. The ST forms the outer layer of placental villi and is responsible for fetal-maternal exchanges and the production of the majority of placental hormones. Deregulation of invasiveness and/or differentiation trophoblastic could lead to pregnancy pathologies such as preeclampsia. Our lab focuses on regulation of trophoblastic cell invasiveness, mechanism of cytotrophoblast differentiation and development of biomarker of preeclampsia.

Trophoblastic cells, although not malignant, share with cancer cells many molecular mechanisms involved in invasion, cell fusion, or tolerance to the immune system. We are particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms involved in cell invasion and fusion, using the model of trophoblastic cells and ovarian cancer cells.

Ovarian carcinogenesis and targeted therapy

The Glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) is a chaperone protein involved in folding of proteins. It is necessary for the survival of stressed cells such as cancer cells and could induce invasion of tumour cells by an unknown mechanism that we would like to study. This protein is an endoplasmic reticulum-associated protein but it was also observed on cell membranes on some malignant cells. This localization, specific of some cancer cells, suggests that GRP78 could be a relevant cell surface target for therapeutic intervention.

We are interested in the role of GRP78, and particularly membrane GRP78 in ovarian carcinogenesis, and its utility for targeted nanotherapy.