Olivier De Backer

Functions of MAGE / BOD1 proteins

Unraveling the functions of Melanoma Antigen (MAGE) and Biorientation Of Chromosomes In Cell Division 1(BOD1) proteins using knockout mouse models

Prof. Olivier De Backer PhD

UNamur, Department of biomedical sciences, Molecular Physiology Research Unit (URPhyM) 

Research portal UNamur  |  ORCID  |  ResearchGate  |  LinkedIn

Expertise and research interests

Prof. Olivier De Backer is leading a research group studying the in vivo functions of proteins from the MAGE family. The genome of humans and other eutherians (placental mammals) contain several dozens of MAGE genes which evolutionary derive from the single MAGE present in the genome of the other vertebrates and of invertebrates. MAGE proteins assemble with E3 RING ubiquitin ligases and modulate their activity, regulating a myriad of processes at the cell level and physiological functions ranging from ion transport in the fetal kidney to behavioral response to cocaine. Some MAGE proteins are expressed in many adult and embryonic cell types. Others are strictly restricted to cells of the germ line in the testis but are often ectopically expressed in cancer cells where they act as oncogenes.

The laboratory of Olivier De Backer focuses on generating lines of transgenic mice deficient for several MAGE proteins. The ongoing research is concentrated on phenotyping these mice. Also, the cellular and molecular functions of these proteins are being addressed.

In 2020, Olivier De Backer offered his expertise in molecular biology at the service of the fight against coronavirus. His team developed a simplified diagnostic method of Covid-19 that does not require PCR equipment. The test is based on a colorimetric detection of duplex loop-mediated isothermal amplification reaction (LAMP).

Group members

PhD students: Nadine Hamdan, Alexis Khelfi, Axelle Nolmans and Olivier Svensek

Research projects

  • ONGOING Study of the functions of BOD1 in a mouse model, which is associated with an intellectual disability syndrome in humans. Ongoing PhD thesis by Nadine Hamdan.
  • ONGOING Study of the role of the cancer/testis MAGEA proteins in DNA repair and resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Ongoing PhD thesis by Alexis Khelfi.
  • ONGOING Study of the role of MAGED2 in myogenic cell differentiation and muscle regeneration. Ongoing PhD thesis by Axelle Nolmans.
  • ONGOING Study of the functions of MAGED2 in the cellular response to DNA damage. Ongoing PhD thesis by Olivier Svensek.

Selected publications

Hamdan N, Mehawej C, Sebaaly G, Jalkh N, Corbani S, Abou-Ghoch J, De Backer O, Chouery E. A homozygous stop gain mutation in BOD1 gene in a Lebanese patient with syndromic intellectual disability. Clin Genet. 2020 Sep;98(3):288-292.

De Backer JF, Monlezun S, Detraux B, Gazan A, Vanopdenbosch L, Cheron J, Cannazza G, Valverde S, Cantacorps L, Nassar M, Venance L, Valverde O, Faure P, Zoli M, De Backer O, Gall D, Schiffmann SN, de Kerchove d'Exaerde A. Deletion of Maged1 in mice abolishes locomotor and reinforcing effects of cocaine. EMBO Rep. 2018 Sep;19(9).

Castrogiovanni C, Waterschoot B, De Backer O, Dumont P. Serine 392 phosphorylation modulates p53 mitochondrial translocation and transcription-independent apoptosis. Cell Death Differ. 2018 Jan;25(1):190-203.

Dombret C, Nguyen T, Schakman O, Michaud JL, Hardin-Pouzet H, Bertrand MJ, De Backer O. Loss of Maged1 results in obesity, deficits of social interactions, impaired sexual behavior and severe alteration of mature oxytocin production in the hypothalamus. Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Nov 1;21(21):4703-17.

Nguyen TH, Bertrand MJ, Sterpin C, Achouri Y, De Backer OR. Maged1, a new regulator of skeletal myogenic differentiation and muscle regeneration. BMC Cell Biol. 2010 Jul 20;11:57.