Research @ the Tavernier Group

"We aim to deepen fundamental understanding of receptor functioning to advance human health."

Receptor Research Laboratories (RRLabs) is a cluster of 4 research groups that, together with a translational research unit, hosts over 40 researchers. This combined expertise creates a unique environment with a focus on a better understanding of receptor functioning at a mechanistic and biological level. Advancing new insights towards the clinic is our ultimate goal.

Research at the Cytokine Receptor Lab (CRL, headed by Prof. Jan Tavernier) is centered around three main themes: (1) mechanisms underlying receptor activation and the Jak/Stat pathway with the leptin receptor as a model system, (2) analysis of protein-protein interactions, from analytical programs to large-scale interactomics using our in-house developed MAPPIT platform, and (3) the development of AcTakines, “Activity-on-Target” cytokines that display greatly reduced systemic toxicity.

Research at the Nuclear Receptor Lab (NRL) is coordinated by Prof. Karolien De Bosscher. Topics dealt with at NRL include non-steroidal small molecule discovery programs for selectively targeting the Glucocorticoid Receptor, molecular studies of the advantages of therapies combining classic Glucocorticoid Receptor agonists and other drugs, validation platforms of anti-inflammatory drugs, fundamental research into the molecular mechanism of nuclear receptor cross-talk mechanisms in inflammation/infection, cancer & (energy)metabolism and steroid-associated side effect mechanistics.

The Toll-like Receptor Lab, headed by Prof. Frank Peelman uses extensive semi-automated mutagenesis analysis and molecular modeling in combination with in-cellulo interaction assays to understand signaling downstream of Toll-like receptors. Signaling starts by interactions of Toll/Interleukin-1 Receptor (TIR) domains in the receptors and their adapters and despite multiple TIR crystal structures, it remains unclear how TIR domains trigger signaling. We further develop new high-throughput read-outs for parallel analysis of complex protein-protein interaction patterns.

The Stress Receptor Lab (SRL) is supervised by Prof. Sarah Gerlo and was established as part of the UGent Group-ID multidisciplinary research platform. Within this unit different paradigms of stress signaling (endoplasmic reticulum stress, adrenergic stress) are investigated. Classical biochemical approaches are combined with the unique interactomics tools available at RRLabs to gain a better molecular understanding of the connection between cellular stress and inflammation.