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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

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Infectious Diseases and Public Health

French National Institute for Agricultural Research - University of Tours (France)

Biology of Avian Viruses

Differentiation of Chicken Embryonic Stem cells (CESc) toward the ectodermic lineage : at day 30 post plating in differentiating conditions cell monolayers are stained with antibodies to cytokeratin (red) and occludin (green), thus enabling the visualization of a cuboidal epithelium, typical for chicken keratinocytes in culture.
© Inra, JF Vautherot, M Couteaudier
Team leader: Caroline Denesvre

Marek's disease  virus (MDV) is a highly contagious virus, causative of Marek's disease (MD), a worldwide disease of chicken, with an estimated annual cost of 2 billions $. MDV induces a transient immunosuppression and a lethal T-cell lymphoma.

Live attenuated vaccines used since 1970 are protective against tumor formation but not against infection and viral excretion from the feather follicles. Thus, vaccinated chicks shed highly pathogenic MDV into the environment for several weeks. This feature might explain the endemic presence of the virus and its evolution towards increased virulence.

Researchs of our team focus on MDV and its relationship with its host, chickens and cells. We investigate :

  • the molecular and cellular determinants of replication, spread and pathogenesis of MDV in the two main target cells : the keratinocytes and lymphocytes;
  • the role of extracellular vesicles;
  • the dynamic of viral excretion from the feathers and factors influencing it.

Finally we develop new tools for MDV studies like permissive cell lines from chicken embryonic stem cells.


Pubmed since 2012


Scientific staff


PhD students

Denesvre Caroline
Pasdeloup David
Souci Laurent
Trapp-Fragnet Laëtitia

Guyader Katia
Rémy-Delaunay Sylvie

Mallet Corentin