Project description: Infections with Zika virus (ZIKV) constitute a major global public health concern worldwide. Indeed, the recent ZIKV outbreak in the Americas revealed that infection of pregnant women can lead to congenital transmission, infection of the fetal developing brain and eventually to microcephaly in the infant. Most importantly, no antiviral therapies or vaccine against ZIKV are currently available, as we poorly understand how the disease develops.
Addressing these questions is challenging since it requires the use of animal models (such as mice) which are limited in terms of duration of development, genetic manipulation, access to infected regions of the developing brain and number of handled individuals. To tackle these challenges, the Chatel-Chaix and the Patten Labs have recently engineered a novel ZIKV infection animal model based on zebrafish whose neuroanatomy resembles that of humans. This innovative model provides a unique access to the infected developing brain and allows the close evaluation of the impact of ZIKV infection on its development.
The Chatel-Chaix lab’ focuses its research on the molecular and cellular biology of flaviviruses (Zika virus, dengue virus and West Nile virus) and SARS-CoV-2 with a strong interest on the functional hijacking of host machineries and/or organelles by these pathogens. The Patten lab uses zebrafish as a translational tool to study the function of genes that are strongly associated with neurological disorders including brain development defects.
Specifically, the candidate will study ZIKV neuropathogenesis using zebrafish at tissue, single-cell and molecular levels, notably through omic approaches. The project will include application of confocal and electron microscopy, single-cell sequencing, genomic manipulation and exciting molecular biology approaches. The candidate will also benefit from a stimulating scientific environment, friendly and interactive culture of both virology and neuroscience communities in Montreal. Our Center is also the only North American member of the Pasteur Network. Relevant publications: Sow et al., Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2023; Goethals et al., Nature 2023; Jamadagni et al., EMBO reports 2021; Mazeaud et al., Viruses, 2021; Anton et al., Cellular Microbiology, 2021; Kaptein et al., Nature 2021; Cortese et al., Cell Host & Microbe, 2020.
Starting date: Winter 2024
Research advisors: Prof Laurent Chatel-Chaix and Prof Kessen Patten
Profile: The candidate must have a PhD degree, a strong publication record and a solid background in virology, neurosciences, developmental biology and/or cell biology. Experience in single-cell transcriptomics and/or in vivo animal models of neurovirulent infection will be considered as assets. Independence, motivation, strong work ethic and a willingness to work as part of a team are required.