Philippe Bastin PhD Biological Sciences

Course and current status

1989-1993 Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, Institute of Cellular Pathology & Catholic University of Louvain, Brussels, Belgium

1994-1999 Wellcome Trust Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

2000 Senior Research Scientist, University of Manchester

2000 INSERM Chargé de Recherche (CR1)

2000-2005 P.I., Team ATIPE, Muséum of Natural History, Paris

2005 HDR in Biomedical Sciences, University René Descartes, Paris

2005 P.I., Trypanosome Cell Biology Unit, Institut Pasteur, Paris  (Department of Parasitology & Mycology and secondary affiliation to the Department of Cell Biology and Infection)

2006 INSERM Director of Research (DR2)

2006 Associate Director of the CNRS unit URA2581 (Director, Artur Scherf)

2012 George Zermati award (Fondation de France)

2013 Prix Pasteur Vallery-Radot (Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

More than 70 invited conferences since 2001 (in 17 different countries)

Funding from public, private and charity sectors via more than 20 grants and fellowships.

Supervision of 8 post-docs, 7 PhD students and 16 Master students or equivalent (8 different nationalities).

Scientific summary

Our group investigates trypanosomes both as parasites causing tropical diseases and as model organisms to study cilia and flagella. Trypanosoma brucei is a flagellated eukaryotic parasite responsible for sleeping sickness in Central Africa that is transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. During their life cycle, these parasites have to adapt to changing environments (mammalian bloodstream, insect gut and salivary glands) and undergo profound morphological and biochemical modifications. The group investigates the dynamics of trypanosome infections in vivo using modern imaging technologies, with special attention to the role of the flagellum in these processes. The aim is to achieve a global understanding of trypanosome infections, taking into account both mammalian and insect aspects. Moreover, trypanosomes are amenable to reverse genetics technologies and in the recent past, they turned out to be exciting novel model organisms to study diseases of cilia and flagella. We collaborate with three clinical laboratories to understand the role of cilia and flagella in several ciliopathies such as primary ciliary dyskinesia, the Bardet-Biedl syndrome or nephronophtisis. The aim is to understand the mechanisms of cilia and flagella formation in order to evaluate the huge complexity of the ciliopathies, diseases due to malfunctioning of these organelles.


We have demonstrated that the flagellum is a key player in trypanosome cell morphogenesis (Kohl et al., EMBO J. 2003, front cover, highlights in Science and Nature Reviews) and could also control parasite development in the tsetse fly (Rotureau et al. Cell Microbiol 2011). We have set up our own breeding and infection facility for tsetse flies and identified a novel step in the parasite life cycle (Rotureau et al, Development 2012, Recommended on F1000 Biology). We have purified intact trypanosome flagella and produced an exhaustive proteomic analysis that identified multiple surface candidate sensing/response molecules (Julkowska, Subota et al). We achieved the first observation of intraflagellar transport by monitoring movement of GFP fused to an essential IFT component (Absalon et al. Mol. Biol. Cell, 2008). More recently, a collaboration with physicists (N. Chenouard & J.C. Olivo-Marin) led to the development of a software for separating anterograde and retrograde movements that allowed accurate quantification of IFT movements. We have now demonstrated that IFT proteins are indeed recycled after their trip in the flagellum (J. Buisson et al. JCS2013, Highlighted). We are now getting into molecular mechanisms of IFT (Bhogaraju et al Science 2013; Huet et al, 2014).

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