Overview - Présentation

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Our lab focuses on mechanisms of epithelial-mesenchymal transition and directional cell migration. We aim at understanding basic principles that rule cell guidance in complex environments during embryogenesis and cancer. We use embryos as tools to better understand the function of key players in cancer progression such as the extracellular matrix, metalloproteinases and guidance cues.

We use Neural Crest cells as a tool to do so since their developmental program involves several oncogenes (snail, twist, ets...)
and their overall behaviour recapitulates the main steps of tumour metastasis in a controlled, reproducible manner, facilitating experimental approaches. Our ultimate goal is to apply our findings on Neural Crest development to Neural Crest-derived forms of cancer such as melanoma and Neuroblastoma.

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NC cell migration


Notre équipe s’intéresse aux mécanismes régulant les migrations cellulaires directionnelles. Notre but est de mieux comprendre les principes qui régissent les migrations cellulaires dans les environnements complexes lors du développement embryonnaire et les cancers. Nous utilisons les cellules embryonnaires pour étudier le rôle d’acteurs clés de la progression métastatique tels que les composants de la matrice extracellulaire, les métalloprotéases et les molécules de guidage.

Les cellules de la crête neurale représentent un modèle de choix pour ce type de travaux. Leur développement repose sur l’activation d’un réseau d’oncogènes (snail, twist, ets) et leur comportement récapitule les grandes étapes de la formation de métastases et ce de façon contrôlée et reproductible, ce qui favorise l’expérimentation.

Notre but à moyen terme est d’utiliser les informations obtenues sur le modèle crêtes neurales pour étudier les migrations cellulaires lors de cancer dérivés de la crête neurale comme les mélanomes et les neuroblastomes.

NC EMT-delamination

The Neural Crest is a multipotent migratory cell population that arises at the interface between the neural tissue and the prospective ectoderm. Neural Crest cells start their migration by separating from their surrounding tissues.

This step is called the delamination and involves a complete or partial epithelium-to-mesenchyme transition.

After delamination, Neural Crest cells migrate extensively throughout the embryo and this migration is regulated by a plethoric list of signals. Positive cues promote overall motility and targeted guidance while negative cues prevent invasion of specific territories and shape the Neural crest population into distinct streams.

The migration routes are lined with extracellular matrix molecules (i.e Fibronectin, Laminin, Collagens etc...). We will try to understand how Neural crest cells interaction with the matrix influences their directional movement.

Cell-microenvironment interactions are similarly critical for immunity and wound healing and diseases such as cancer and chronic inflammation. Hence our work might yield new insights into these processes.

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Actin dynamics


Chemotaxis Assay - Xenopus Neural Crest cells (movie)

In vivo migration of Xenopus Neural Crest cells (movie)

In situ Hybridization for chick Neural Crest cells