Proteomics Expertise Center

Research focus

​Our proteomics-centered research provides novel tools to investigate proteins and their modifications by mass spectrometry, thereby supporting the activity of the VIB Proteomics Expertise Center (PEC) and interdisciplinary research at VIB.

We develop targeted assays to monitor panels of proteins of high interest at VIB. These assays are based on the concept of sentinel proteins which are biological markers whose change in abundance or modification characterizes the activation state of a given cellular process. By Parallel Reaction Monitoring (PRM) on our orbitrap mass spectrometers we quantify hundreds of proteins in a single run and are able to provide fast and sensitive read-outs of the metabolic and inflammatory state of the cell.

We further focus on the analysis of ubiquitin-like protein modifications (UBLs), in particular ISG15. This UBL is only expressed upon cytokine induction in most cell types and is important to tackle microbial infections. In collaboration with the Gevaert and the Eyckerman labs we develop novel proteomics-based strategies to identify target proteins and conjugation sites of ISG15 that will help to further elucidate the role of ISGylation in the host defense against infection.

Finally, we focus on the analysis of antigenic peptides during infection. Although many aspects of the MHC presentation pathway are known in great detail, the rules for peptide selection remain largely unknown. In collaboration with the Callewaert and Saelens labs we develop robust pipelines for the LC-MS/MS identification of antigenic peptides presented on cells infected by Mycobacterium, influenza and RSV. Results from this research will lead to novel epitopes that can be used as vaccine candidates.


The in vivo ISGylome links ISG15 to metabolic pathways and autophagy upon Listeria monocytogenes infection.Zhang Yifeng Thery Fabien Wu Nicholas Luhmann Emma Dussurget Olivier Foecke Mariko Bredow Clara Jiménez-Fernández Daniel Leandro Kevin Beling Antje Knobeloch Klaus-Peter Impens Francis@ Cossart Pascale@ Radoshevich Lilliana@Nature Communications, 10, 5383, 2019@: corresponding authors
Mutations in LZTR1 drive human disease by dysregulating RAS ubiquitinationSteklov M* Pandolfi S* Baietti M* Batiuk A Carai P Najm P Zhang M Jang H Renzi F Cai Y Abbasi L Pastor T De Troyer M Simicek M Radaelli E Brems H Legius E Tavernier J Gevaert K Impens F Messiaen L Nussinov R Heymans S Eyckerman S Sablina ASCIENCE, 362, 1177-1182, 2018* or °: authors contributed equally
N-terminomics identifies Prli42 as a membrane miniprotein conserved in Firmicutes and critical for stressosome activation in Listeria monocytogenesImpens Francis Rolhion N Radoshevich L Becavin C Duval M Mellin J Garcia Del Portillo F Pucciarelli M. G Williams A Cossart PNature Microbiology, 2, 17005, 2017
Sec61 blockade by mycolactone inhibits antigen cross-presentation independently of endosome-to-cytosol exportGrotzke J. E Kozik P Morel J. B Impens Francis Pietrosemoli N Cresswell P Amigorena S Demangel CPROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 114, E5910-E5919, 2017
ISG15 counteracts Listeria monocytogenes infectionRadoshevich L Impens F Ribet D Quereda J. J Nam Tham T Nahori M. A Bierne H Dussurget O Pizarro-Cerda J. Knobeloch K. P Cossart PeLife, 4, , 2015

Job openings


A protein tag to study the immune system

26/11/2019 - Researchers from VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology, University of Iowa (USA) and other collaborators, developed a novel approach to better understand a basic defense mechanism of our immune system.

Francis Impens

Francis Impens

Research area(s)


PhD: Univ. of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium, 2005-10
Postdoc: Univ. of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium, 2010-12
Postdoc: Institut Pasteur, Paris, France, 2012-15
VIB Expert Technologist since October 2015

Contact Info

VIB-UGent Center for Medical BiotechnologyAlbert Baertsoenkaai 3 9000 GENTRoute description