The Marseille Cancer Research Center celebrates its 50th anniversary ! -

Charafe-Jauffret / Ginestier team is part of the Translate-it department

Our team aims at deciphering the role of CSC at different step of carcinogenesis from tumor initiation to metastatic spreading in order to prevent and/or override therapeutic resistance.

Epithelial cancers are known to present a major intratumoral heterogeneity that contributes to therapy failure and disease progression.The origin of this cellular heterogeneity is mainly explained by a hierarchical organization of tumor tissues where several subpopulations of self-renewing cancer stem cells (CSCs) sustain the long-term oligoclonal maintenance of the neoplasm. CSCs drive tumor growth, resist to conventional therapies and initiate metastasis development. Thus, developing CSC-targeting therapies is becoming a major challenge requiring the understanding of the unique molecular circuitry of CSC as compared to non-CSC. Our research programs focus on three main questions:

  • What is the contribution of lineage-restricted mechanisms that normally maintain epithelium homeostasis during tumor progression?
  • Can we modulate CSC’s intrinsic programs to develop new therapeutic strategies to cure cancer?
  • How essential is the niche in regulating CSC metastatic spreading?

To answer these questions we use two tissue models: the human mammary gland and the epithelial transition zones.

Our projects

Our team is a pioneer in the identification and characterization of breast cancer stem cells (bCSCs) (Ginestier et al., Cell Stem Cell, 2007; Charafe-Jauffret et al., Cancer Res., 2009). We are pursuing our effort by developing research programs to decipher intrinsic molecular pathways regulating bCSC-fate. We aim at identifying new therapeutic targets to develop anti-CSC therapies. All these translational research programs are based on the development of innovative tools and models (functionnal screens, Patient-derived Xenografts).


Transition zones represent an abrupt transition between two types of epitheliums, and are ubiquitously found in our body such as in the eye, cervix, between the esophagus and stomach and between the anal canal and rectum. These zones can develop cancer with poor prognosis in human and mouse associated with metastasis. Despite their clinical significance, the underlying molecular and cellular reasons for this tumor susceptibility remain elusive. Our group is using various molecular and biochemistry techniques, flow cytometry, 3D cellular cultures and genetically modified mouse models to characterize these transition zones in normal and pre-lesional states. We are also investigating the role of stem cells and the microenvironment in squamous cell carcinoma development.

the Team publications
Oct 2019 EMBO molecular medicine

A genome-wide RNAi screen reveals essential therapeutic targets of breast cancer stem cells.

Arfaoui A, Rioualen C, Azzoni V, Pinna G, Finetti P, Wicinski J, Josselin E, Macario M, Castellano R, Léonard-Stumpf C, Bal A, Gros A, Lossy S, Kharrat M, Collette Y, Bertucci F, Birnbaum D, Douik H, Bidaut G, Charafe-Jauffret E, Ginestier C

Feb 2017 Cell reports

miR-600 Acts as a Bimodal Switch that Regulates Breast Cancer Stem Cell Fate through WNT Signaling.

El Helou R, Pinna G, Cabaud O, Wicinski J, Bhajun R, Guyon L, Rioualen C, Finetti P, Gros A, Mari B, Barbry P, Bertucci F, Bidaut G, Harel-Bellan A, Birnbaum D, Charafe-Jauffret E, Ginestier C

May 2017 Nature medicine

A stemness-related ZEB1-MSRB3 axis governs cellular pliancy and breast cancer genome stability.

Morel AP, Ginestier C, Pommier RM, Cabaud O, Ruiz E, Wicinski J, Devouassoux-Shisheboran M, Combaret V, Finetti P, Chassot C, Pinatel C, Fauvet F, Saintigny P, Thomas E, Moyret-Lalle C, Lachuer J, Despras E, Jauffret JL, Bertucci F, Guitton J, Wierinckx A, Wang Q, Radosevic-Robin N, Penault-Llorca F, Cox DG, Hollande F, Ansieau S, Caramel J, Birnbaum D, Vigneron AM, Tissier A, Charafe-Jauffret E, Puisieux A

Jun 2023 Cancer research

CD25high Effector Regulatory T Cells Hamper Responses to PD-1 Blockade in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.

Fattori S, Le Roy A, Houacine J, Robert L, Abes R, Gorvel L, Granjeaud S, Rouvière MS, Ben Amara A, Boucherit N, Tarpin C, Pakradouni J, Charafe-Jauffret E, Houvenaeghel G, Lambaudie E, Bertucci F, Rochigneux P, Gonçalves A, Foussat A, Chrétien AS, Olive D

Jan 2021 Cancers

Quantification of Immune Variables from Liquid Biopsy in Breast Cancer Patients Links Vδ2 γδ T Cell Alterations with Lymph Node Invasion.

Fattori S, Gorvel L, Granjeaud S, Rochigneux P, Rouvière MS, Ben Amara A, Boucherit N, Paul M, Dauplat MM, Thomassin-Piana J, Paciencia-Gros M, Avenin M, Pakradouni J, Barrou J, Charafe-Jauffret E, Houvenaeghel G, Lambaudie E, Bertucci F, Goncalves A, Tarpin C, Nunès JA, Devillier R, Chretien AS, Olive D

Oct 2020 Nature chemistry

CD44 regulates epigenetic plasticity by mediating iron endocytosis.

Müller S, Sindikubwabo F, Cañeque T, Lafon A, Versini A, Lombard B, Loew D, Wu TD, Ginestier C, Charafe-Jauffret E, Durand A, Vallot C, Baulande S, Servant N, Rodriguez R

Jul 2020 Nucleic acids research

miRViz: a novel webserver application to visualize and interpret microRNA datasets.

Giroux P, Bhajun R, Segard S, Picquenot C, Charavay C, Desquilles L, Pinna G, Ginestier C, Denis J, Cherradi N, Guyon L

Dec 2019 Annales de pathologie

[GEFPICS’ guidelines for management of breast cancer tissue samples in the neoadjuvant setting].

Maran-Gonzalez A, Franchet C, Duprez-Paumier R, Antoine M, Barlier C, Becette V, Berghian A, Blanc-Fournier C, Brabencova E, Charafe-Jauffret E, Chenard MP, Dauplat MM, Delrée P, Fleury C, Garbar C, Ghnassia JP, Haudebourg J, MacGrogan G, Mathieu MC, Michenet P, Penault-Llorca F, Poulet B, Robin Y, Roger P, Russ E, Treilleux I, Valent A, Verriele V, Vincent-Salomon A, Arnould L, Lacroix-Triki M,

Nov 2019 Proteomics

Transcriptomic Analysis of Breast Cancer Stem Cells and Development of a pALDH1A1:mNeptune Reporter System for Live Tracking.

Bidan N, Bailleul-Dubois J, Duval J, Winter M, Denoulet M, Hannebicque K, El-Sayed IY, Ginestier C, Forissier V, Charafe-Jauffret E, Macario M, Matsunaga YT, Meignan S, Anquez F, Julien S, Bonnefond A, Derhourhi M, Le Bourhis X, Lagadec C

Jun 2019 Seminars in cancer biology

CD95/Fas and metastatic disease: What does not kill you makes you stronger.

Guégan JP, Ginestier C, Charafe-Jauffret E, Ducret T, Quignard JF, Vacher P, Legembre P

May 2019 Cancers

A Comparison of DNA Mutation and Copy Number Profiles of Primary Breast Cancers and Paired Brain Metastases for Identifying Clinically Relevant Genetic Alterations in Brain Metastases.

Tyran M, Carbuccia N, Garnier S, Guille A, Adelaïde J, Finetti P, Toulzian J, Viens P, Tallet A, Goncalves A, Metellus P, Birnbaum D, Chaffanet M, Bertucci F

May 2019 Journal of clinical medicine

Stem Cells Inhibition by Bevacizumab in Combination with Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer.

Sabatier R, Charafe-Jauffret E, Pierga JY, Curé H, Lambaudie E, Genre D, Houvenaeghel G, Viens P, Ginestier C, Bertucci F, Sfumato P, Extra JM, Gonçalves A

Apr 2019 Nature chemical biology

PH-domain-binding inhibitors of nucleotide exchange factor BRAG2 disrupt Arf GTPase signaling.

Nawrotek A, Benabdi S, Niyomchon S, Kryszke MH, Ginestier C, Cañeque T, Tepshi L, Mariani A, St Onge RP, Giaever G, Nislow C, Charafe-Jauffret E, Rodriguez R, Zeghouf M, Cherfils J