Polarity, division and morphogenesis
Keywordscell polarity, division, mitotic spindle orientation, asymmetric cell division, morphogenesis
Our research group aims at understanding: 1) How cell fate diversity is generated during development? How organs acquire their shape? To address these two questions, we are using the Drosophila fruit fly model where we can easily study mutants affecting cell fate specification or organ shape. Hence, we could identify the genes necessary for cell fate and tissue shape determination. Finally we are implementing tools from modern physic to better understand the dynamic and the mechanic of tissue during development.
Cell polarity is fundamental to many aspects of cell and developmental biology and it is implicated in differentiation, proliferation and morphogenesis in both unicellular and multi-cellular organisms. Furthermore, loss of cell polarisation is a property common to cancer cells.
We are studying the mechanisms regulating cell polarity during two key embryonic development processes in Drosophila: asymmetric cell division and epithelial tissue morphogenesis. The study of asymmetric division provides an understanding of the manner in which distinct cells are produced during development and of how stem cells are maintained during adult life. The study of epithelial morphogenesis provides an understanding of how cells and tissues organise to form functional organs.
In order to gain an understanding of the fundamental processes, our team is currently using two complementary approaches:
1. We combine the use of genetic tools with cutting edge optical microscopy to analyse cell polarisation mechanisms during division and tissue dynamics (Film 1 and Film 2).
2. We use innovative inter-disciplinary methodologies in the fields of cell and developmental biology. On the one hand, the imaging of individual molecules in cells in order to better understand how molecules move within cells (Film 3).
On the other hand, we describe the development of epithelial cells in a quantitative manner using new mathematical tools used to quantify the geometric and topological changes in a group of cells affecting tissue development.
The underlying cell polarisation mechanisms are maintained throughout evolution. These experiments thus improve our knowledge for all animals. Finally, as loss of cell polarisation is a property common to cancer cells, our work shall lead to improved understanding of the cell processes affected during tumour diseases.
The Pon-GFP cell marker (green) migrates to one pole of the pl cell during division. It is thus inherited by a single daughter cell. Chromosomes are marked with a His-mRFP protein (red).
Confocal microscopic monitoring of the development of an epithelial tissue whose cells have been marked with E-Cadherin-GFP.
Directed movement phases are coloured red. Two other quantum dots displaying Brownian movement are also present.