Our group is part of Cellular Interactions department of the GReD laboratory (Clermont-Ferrand, France), and we work on epithelial morphogenesis and growth.
We are interested in the functional interactions occurring between the proteins controlling cell shape (morphogenesis) and cell size (growth). It is relatively obvious that tissue or organ development requires coordination of morphogenesis and growth. It is easy to study this coordination on epithelia because of the simple and stereotyped shape of epithelial cells. Thus, any size or shape defect can be easily detected and even quantified. Beside these basic questions, most of cancers arise from epithelial tissues and misregulation of the mechanisms controlling their growth and morphogenesis (and especially apical-basal polarity) are both involved in tumor development. It is therefore relevant for cancer biology to study interactions between these mechanisms, and, indeed, several of the genes that we study are tumor suppressors or oncogenes in human.
We use the follicular cells of the Drosophila ovary as a model of epithelium. On top of all the genetics tools and cell imaging possibilities available in fly, the follicular epithelium owns a morphology highly reminiscent of mammal epithelia and its growth is easily controllable by nutrient intake. Thus, it is an excellent model to address the questions regarding the coordination of growth and shape during development.
Our current projects are i) carry on the study of an epithelial polarity pathway specifically requires under energetic stress that we have previously highlighted ii) understand how cell shape impacts cell growth iii) identify new genes involved in controlling size and/or shape of epithelial cells iv) use Drosophila to study the function of human tumor suppressor genes.