Since its creation in 2005, our Unit focused on the structural and functional properties of human red blood cell membrane proteins. We have developped experimental and in-silico methodologies for an integrative approach to the understanding of the interactions between extracellular ligands, transmembrane proteins and the cytoskeleton that define the antigenic (e.g., blood group) and functional (adhesion, transport, receptor) properties of erythrocytes. These interactions have been studied under normal and pathological conditions (hereditary anemia, sickle-cell disease, polycythemia, etc.). Thanks to the fusion in 2012 of the Unit research UMR_S763 (“ Physiopathology and pharmacogenomics of sickle cell disease treatment“, Université des Antilles et de la Guadeloupe/Inserm) we have reinforced the clinical and basic researches on sickle cell disease in metropolitan France and in the French West Indies. In 2010, the ATIP-Avenir team “Severe malaria pathogenesis” joined our unit to develop research on the adhesive properties of Plasmodium falcifarum infected cells to endothelial cells.
The general project of the Unit results from our strong will to provide with a task force dedicated to red blood cell. Accordingly, our unit was at the initiative of the Laboratory of Excellence “GR-Ex” (The red cell: from genesis to death”), created in March 2012, and which aims at promoting excellence by tackling the fragmentation of French Red Cell research by bringing together some 18 high level scientific Teams working in close collaboration with 10 clinical groups. Our main goals will be i) to pursue the development of experimental and in silico approaches in order to obtain an integrated view of the biological function and structural properties of red cell membrane surface proteins (mainly adhesion and transporter proteins) ii) to extend our investigation fields on the pathophysiology of sickle cell disease by taking advantage of the accessibility of large metropolitan and caribbean patient cohorts iii) to investigate the molecular and cellular basis of erythropoiesis, focusing our research on the structural and signaling properties of adhesion molecules iv) to decipher the cellular and molecular mechanisms, mainly adhesion process, involved in the severity of gestational-associated and childhood malaria, v) to take advantage of our expertise on the structural and functionnal properties of huma red cells to developp new approaches for the optimization of blood transfusion products.