Targeting non-canonical protein functions in cancer


Since its inception in 2006, the team has described non-canonical functions of proteins. For instance, we showed that in addition to their well-known activities in innate immunity, MyD88 and TLR3 play important roles in Ras signaling via interaction with Erk, and induction of apoptosis of cancer cells, respectively. In addition to the expected scientific publications, these findings have led to several patents and to the creation of the two startups.

More recently, we have identified:

–  a new protein-protein interaction-dependent role for the Erk MAPK, independently of its kinase activity;

–  a novel molecular link between Erk and GCN2, independently of the latter’s amino acid-sensing function;

– a hitherto unknown role for the phosphoribosyltransferase QPRT in Ras transformation, independently of its enzymatic activity.

The team’s goal over the next five years is to better understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying these non-canonical activities, and how they could be implicated in tumor initiation and/or progression. We will actively explore whether these proteins or their newly-identified partners are potential therapeutic targets in cancer. In that case, we will use our proven know-how in transfer research (target validation, molecule screening and optimization…) to develop novel therapeutic agents in cancer.