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Welcome to the Inserm Unit - U1259 MAVIVH website

“Morphogenesis and Antigenicity of HIV and Hepatitis Viruses”

U1259 is a multidisciplinary team, involving researchers in virology, biochemistry, cell biology and public health. Most of them are also hospital practitioners, strengthening the link between the research unit and the university hospital. During the last years, our team has concentrated on elucidating clue steps in HIV, HBV and HCV morphogenesis, as well as the impact of genomic variability of these viruses on infection outcomes and vaccine design. Our projects on “"viral morphogenesis"” aim at a better understanding of the life cycle of the HIV and hepatitis viruses and especially their assembly steps. For HCV, we investigate the role of the apolipoproteins and other host-cell factors in the initial steps of the virion formation. We have also established new methods to characterize the structure of the viral particle and its components. For HIV, we study the mechanisms involved in virus assembly in host-cell compartments and its released by exocytosis in the extracellular environment. Our projects on “"antigenicity and diversity”" have come out of the fact that both HIV and HCV are associated with chronic infections that lead to a great heterogeneity of viral genomes in infected patients. We aim at a better understanding of the viral escape to the immune system, focusing particularly on the neutralizing humoral immune response. We try to identify the molecular characteristics of envelope proteins associated with the induction of neutralizing antibodies (or in contrary with neutralization escape) and to identify the impact of viral diversity on antigenic and functional properties of the viral envelope glycoproteins. Our long-term objectives are to contribute to the design of an optimal immunogen to induce broad-neutralizing antibodies against these viruses. The unit takes benefit of its expertise in viral morphogenesis, and notably the model of the HBV subviral envelope particle assembly, to generate subviral particles as concept for new original vaccine strategies.