Jan Tavernier Lab

Research focus

Cytokines are involved in intercellular communication. Examples include the interferons, interleukins and colony stimulating factors (like erythropoietin) and also some hormones like growth hormone and leptin. These secreted proteins are part of the so-called cytokine network that controls key physiological processes in the body including hematopoiesis, host defense and metabolism. Their receptors are composed of an extracellular, ligand binding part that is linked to the cytosolic, signaling domain by a single transmembrane domain. The Cytokine Receptor Laboratory is focusing on studies to better understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie cytokine receptor activation and functioning including the key JAK/STAT pathway. 

Translational research is intrinsic to our programs. As a technology spin-off, we are developing the MAPPIT and KISS two-hybrid traps to study protein interactions in living mammalian cells. Applications range from the detailed analysis of selected protein pairs to full protein interactome mapping. Apart from basic research, the MAPPIT technology suite also provides valuable tools for drug discovery, including target identification, compound screening and drug profiling.

As key immune-regulatory proteins, cytokines are involved in controlling infections, inflammation and cancer, but cytokine dysfunction can be associated with pathologies including autoimmune disorders. It is therefore no surprise that cytokines and cytokine antagonists have found their way to the clinic. However, their spatially restricted activity pattern combined with a ubiquitous receptor expression pattern implies that when cytokines are administered systemically, they often cause severe side effects that restrict their clinical use. We are therefore developing AcTakines (Activity-on-Target cytokines), which only unveil their activity on selected target cells while remaining inactive en route through the body. We have obtained proof-of-concept for structurally diverse cytokines such as type I and II interferons, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-1 (IL-1), and are validating AcTakine applications in vivo in different mouse cancer models and also in models for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.



Safe eradication of large established tumors using neovasculature-targeted tumor necrosis factor-based therapies.Huyghe Leander Van Parys Alexander* Cauwels Anje* Van Lint Sandra De Munter Stijn Bultinck Jennyfer Zabeau Lennart Hostens Jeroen Goethals An Vanderroost Nele Verhee Annick Uzé Gilles Kley Niko Peelman Frank Vandekerckhove Bart Brouckaert Peter Tavernier Jan@EMBO Molecular Medicine, 12, e11223, 2020* or °: authors contributed equally@: corresponding authors
Delivering Type I Interferon to Dendritic Cells Empowers Tumor Eradication and Immune Combination TreatmentsCauwels A* Van Lint S* Paul F Garcin G De Koker S Van Parys A Wueest T Gerlo S Van Der Heyden J Bordat Y Catteeuw D Rogge E Verhee A Vandekerckhove B Kley N Uzé G* Tavernier J*CANCER RESEARCH, 78, 463-474, 2018* or °: authors contributed equally
Proteome-scale Binary Interactomics in Human CellsLievens Samuel Van Der Heyden José Masschaele Delphine De Ceuninck Leentje Petta Ioanna Gupta Surya De Puysseleyr Veronic Vauthier Virginie Lemmens Irma De Clercq D. J Defever Dieter Vanderroost Nele De Smet Anne-Sophie Eyckerman Sven Van Calenbergh S. Martens Lennart De Bosscher Karolien Libert Claude Hill D Vidal M. Tavernier JanMOLECULAR & CELLULAR PROTEOMICS, 15, 3624-3639, 2016
A proteome-scale map of the human interactome networkRolland T Ta an M Charloteaux B Pevzner S. J Zhong Q Sahni N Yi S Lemmens Irma Fontanillo C Mosca R Kamburov A Ghiassian S. D Yang X. Ghamsari L Balcha D Begg B. E Braun P. Brehme M Broly M Carvunis A. R. Convery-Zupan D Corominas R Coulombe-Huntington J Dann E. Dreze M. Dricot A. Fan C. Franzosa E Gebreab F. Gutierrez B. J Hardy M. F Jin M Kang S Kiros R Lin G. N Luck K Macwilliams A Menche J Murray R. R. Palagi A Poulin M. M Rambout X Rasla J Reichert P Romero V Ruyssinck Elien Sahalie J. Scholz A Shah A. M Sharma A Shen Y Spirohn K Tam S. Tejeda A. O Trigg S. A Twizere J. C Vega K Walsh J Cusick M. E. Xia Y Barabasi A. L. Iakoucheva L. M. Aloy P De Las Rivas J Tavernier Jan Calderwood M. A Hill D Hao T. Roth F. P. Vidal M.CELL, 159, 1212-26, 2014
The Sin3a repressor complex is a master regulator of STAT transcriptional activityIcardi Laura Mori Raffaele Gesellchen Viola Eyckerman Sven De Cauwer Lode Verhelst Judith Vercauteren K Saelens Xavier Meuleman P Leroux-Roels G De Bosscher Karolien Boutros M Tavernier JanPROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 109, 12058-63, 2012

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Orionis Biosciences Debuts with Major Pharmaceutical Collaboration to Tackle Industry’s Most Challenging Protein Targets

05/03/2020 - Orionis Biosciences is debuting with the announcement of a major drug discovery collaboration with Novartis. Orionis has developed innovative technologies in genome-scale drug discovery and tunable molecular design of novel therapeutic drug modalities.

Jan Tavernier (VIB-UGent) in Top 20 Translational Researchers

12/12/2019 - Jan Tavernier (VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology) is only the second Belgian ever to make it onto the US-dominated list. The list is an aggregate score of number of patents granted in that year, patent citations and h-index.

Interesting news from VIB Medical Biotechnology Center UGent

29/07/2016 - The labs of Jan Tavernier, Kris Gevaert and Sven Eyckerman from the VIB Medical Biotechnology Center, UGent tackle some of the most fundamental life sciences questions in their research into the detection and analysis of protein-protein interaction.

Jan Tavernier

Jan Tavernier

Research area(s)


​PhD: Ghent University, Belgium, 1984
VIB Group leader since 1996
Acting department director 2010-2015

Contact Info

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