top of page

What is the NANOTUMOR Consortium?

Check out our review in Biology of the Cell Journal!




Aviesan Federative Program (PFA) - Towards the Tumor Cell Atlas

A research program coordinated by Jacky G. Goetz (U1109 - Strasbourg) and Patrick Schultz (IGBMC - Illkirch)

This consortium is composed of 13 teams, working on four axes:

Axis 1: Molecular and structural description of multiprotein complexes initiating the oncogenic process - A. Hamiche & P. Schultz

Axis 2: Establishment of a subcellular morphological atlas during carcinogenesis: From organelles to molecular networks that drive cancer - K. Schauer & V. Hyenne

Axis 3: Biosensors, protein and chemical inhibitors - P. Martineau & M. Tramier

Axis 4In vivo integration of targetable candidate protein complexes in patient samples - J.-P. Borg & L. Camoin


To identify, characterize and determine the structure of multi-subunit
macromolecular complexes involved in cancer onset or development

To provide the first nanoscale map of cancer cells, at different steps of
the metastasis cascade, from tumor initiation to metastasis formation


The NANOTUMOR consortium is a French national multi-disciplinary workforce that aims to study cancer initiation and progression at molecular and subcellular level, by combining cutting-edge technologies and expertises in electron and fluorescence 2D-3D imaging, spatial transcriptomics and mass-spectrometry, micropatterning and microfluidics/biomechanics in various cellular and animal models, anti-intrabody/PPI engineering, and high-throughput screening. It will explore several children and adults’ cancers characteristics from the structure of underlying molecular complexes, spatio-temporal genes and proteins expression patterns, all the way up to subcellular organization, tissues morphology/rheology, and ultimately drug design and screening.


It combines tools and expertise of 13 teams spread over 7 sites in FranceOur objectives are to establish stable links between consortium members, achieving key scientific results through the synergy of this collaboration, create and consolidate existing infrastructures, and have a fundraising / communication strategy to consolidate the consortium and attract potential new members.



The cellular organization and organelle morphology reflect the integrated action of the expressed proteins directed by the genetic and epigenetic program of a given cell type. The cellular ultrastructure is affected by metabolic or pathologic changes and therefore informs us about the physio-pathological state of the cell. Deciphering the links between morphology and disease could therefore help to establish a diagnosis and/or determine the stage of a large number of human diseases and particularly in cancer cells (Rozenblatt-Rosen et al., 2020). The pathway between one – or a collection of – point mutation(s) identified in a patient to the actual cellular defect is often not straightforward since cells behave like multicomponent networks in which the alteration of one or several component(s) may have distal, antagonist or synergic effects which are difficult to predict. Thus, an adequate cure might not be to replace the exact function of the altered protein(s), but to remedy more general downstream effects that may be revealed by cell morphology. Consequently, an atlas of normal and pathologic cell morphology parameters may guide researchers studying an unknown disease towards altered pathways for which treatments exist.

One major goal of the Nanotumor Consortium is thus to provide the nanoscale maps of cancer cells, at different steps of the metastasis cascade, from tumor initiation to metastasis formation. We ambition to characterize tumor subcellular processes and cellular organelles at high resolution. Cells are occupied by numerous organelles which carry important cellular functions and are constantly remodeled to exchange molecules. In addition to be responsible for the viscoelastic behavior of any cell (Pu et al., 2016), these organelles are notably under extreme mechanical stress when tumors cells are subjected to high compression or tension forces which they need to cope with (van Bergeijk et al., 2016). A careful evaluation of the effect of mechanical forces and metastatic steps on cellular organelles is crucial and would allow to understand their effects on important organelle-carried cellular functions, in addition to identifying organelles and cytoskeletal elements that are responsible for rheological responses and differences. Furthermore, since organelles represent hierarchical structures of molecular networks, studying their alteration in cancer could provide a framework for network stratification. Key to this project is thus to shed light on the alterations of intracellular organelles during cancer progression and to use this higher order modules to delineate basic mechanisms driving tumorigenesis. We aim at establishing an unprecedented top-down strategy to stratify protein networks driving cancer and exploit key protein interactions and complexes for vulnerabilities of therapeutic relevance. We anticipate major insights into the underlying tumor biology allowing rational design of antitumor strategies.

Another major goal of the Nanotumor consortium is to identify, characterize and determine the atomic structure of multi-subunit macromolecular complexes involved in the cancer cascade, either identified as a result of the top-down strategy, or already studied by the members of the consortium. This will enable us, in the medium term, to initiate our drug research efforts. Major technological progresses now allow to identify major cellular nano-machines in terms of protein composition, post-translational modifications, functional dissection, and structure determination at close to atomic resolution. The biochemical and structural characterization of the cancer-induced and time-resolved alterations of molecular complexes will be validated in-vivo, their structure used for in-silico drug design (ie. PPI) and purified for in-vitro screening / optimization.

For the NANOTUMOR coordination, Jacky G. Goetz and Patrick Schultz


For any question relative to the Consortium

Florent Colin, Ph.D.
NANOTUMOR Project Manager

Jacky G. Goetz - Tumor Biomechanics Lab
Centre de Recherche de Biomédecine de Strasbourg (CRBS)
INSERM - U1109
1, Rue Eugène Boeckel


Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page