Research Groups

Fabienne Andris Group

Description of the research topics

Research in Fabienne Andris Group focuses on two main topics : 

  • Metabolic control of T cell activation
Pathways that control immune cell function and metabolism are intimately linked, and changes in the metabolic status of immune cells can determine the outcome immune responses. In particular, tumor tissues create suppressive metabolic microenvironments, which contribute to ineffective immune function. Recent studies have shown that successfully manipulating metabolic targets is sufficient to enhance or suppress specific T cell function, thereby offering therapeutic potential for many pathological processes including inflammation, autoimmune-associated diseases and cancer. We study the role of metabolic sensor enzymes in T cell activation, differentiation and plasticity with the aim to identify new facets of metabolism that could be targeted to improve adoptive transferred T cell fitness in cancer therapies.

  • T cell exhaustion
CD8+ T cells selectively detect and eradicate cancer cells. However, tumor infiltrating lymphocytes become dysfunctional (or exhausted) over the course of tumorigenesis, leading to cancer evasion to the immune response.
T cells express distinct profiles of exhaustion in response to a persistent antigen (as observed in autoimmunity, chronic viral infection, cancer,…). How the tumor microenvironment specifically contributes to the irreversible dysfunction (or “terminally exhaustion”) of tumor infiltrating T lymphocytes is still poorly described. Hence, a better understanding of the transcriptional, epigenetic, and metabolic changes underlying tumor-driven T cell exhaustion is mandatory for the rationale design of effective immunotherapies.
To study antitumoral responses during initiation of precancerous lesions and against established tumors, we recently developed a model of autochthonous hepatocarcinoma based on hydrodynamic transfection of mice with a set of oncogenes expressing plasmids and ovalbumin (OVA) as a surrogate tumor-specific antigen. Hydrodynamic injection of a set of mice with ovalbumin-expressing plasmid in the absence of oncogenes drives its expression in non-transformed (healthy) hepatocytes. Transfer of OVA-specific T lymphocytes in these groups of mice allow us to follow antigen-specific T cell fate in response to the same antigen in the context of healthy, precancerous, or advanced hepatocarcinoma liver environment. Our goal is to understand when and how tumor-specific T cells differentiate towards dysfunctional states during tumorigenesis.


Members

Principal Investigator

ANDRIS, Fabienne
PhD
Fabienne is a FNRS research associate. She investigates the molecular mechanisms underpinning the differentiation of CD4+ T cell subsets and the relationships between cell metabolism and immune response.

PhD Student

BOSSI, Lorenzo
PhD
Lorenzo obtained his Master degree in Molecular Biology of the Cell at the Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy) in 2018.He is recipient of a grant from the MSCA-Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) Consortium “Antibacterial Innovative Training Network, BactiVax”.His PhD thesis, realized under the joined supervision of S. Giltaire at ImmunXperts, aims at monitoring immune responses induced in vitro to different antigenic formulations targeting multi-drug resistant bacteria
DREIDI, Hacene
PhD
Hacene obtained his Master degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Paris Diderot (France) and joined the lab in 2021. He is recipient of an FNRS/Télévie scholarship to study the mechanisms that drive T cell exhaustion in the context of hepatocarcinoma.

Technician

DENANGLAIRE, Sébastien
BSc
Sébastien has a strong expertise in Flow Cytometry ranging from multicolor antibody panel conception to data analysis (classical analysis software and unsupervised clustering). He has also a broad expertise in cell culture and molecular biology.
02 650 98 78

Administrative staff

DECOT, Isabelle
Isabelle provides administrative support to different team members of the laboratory.
02 650 98 61

Master Student

DEJOLIER, Solange
BSc
Solange is a Master student in Molecular Biology (Faculty of Sciences). She is doing her master thesis on liver cancer-driven T cell exhaustion.

Previous Lab Member

HUSSEIN, Hind
PhD
Hind is a molecular biologist who joined the lab in 2016 and completed her PhD Thesis in 2020. She was funded by a FRIA scholarship to study the mechanisms that regulate the specification of intestinal regulatory T cells. Her work was published in Frontiers in Immunology, 2020. She is now Postdoctoral research scientist in the laboratory of Prof Guy Boeckxstaens at KU Leuven, where she works on intestinal inflammation
LEPEZ, Anouk
PhD
Anouk joined the lab in 2016. She was recipient of a FRIA scholarship to investigate the interplay between T cell metabolism and immune function. She has demonstrated that AMP-activated kinase controls mitochondrial fitness and promotes the proliferative capacity of T cells (published in Sc. Reports, 2020). She pursues her work as a Postdoc in the lab. of Prof. P. Romero at the University of Lausanne,where she develops new protocols of CAR-T cell development through modulation of cell metabolism