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Current research

Cell polarity is essential for the development of organisms. Our lab uses the Nematode C. elegans to study the establishment and the maintenance of polarity in various cell types. The team was created in 2007 with an Avenir INSERM starting grant and is focused on the interplay between cellular and developmental biology.

- Epithelial polarity maintenance and membrane traffic

Epithelial cells rely on different intracellular trafficking pathways between the apical pole and the basolateral pole to achieve a polarised localisation of lipids and protein. Apical junctions act as a diffusion barrier separating the two poles. We study the role of the clathrin adaptor complex AP-1 in C. elegans epithelial cells. In C. elegans, as in Drosophila and mouse, the loss of AP-1 induces embryonic lethality. We recently found that AP-1 controls the apicobasal polarity in the C. elegans intestine and the apical localisation of CDC-42 and PAR-6 (Shafaq-Zadah et al., Development, 2012, 139:2061-70).

- Polarity in the early embryo

The establishment of a polarity axis is essential for asymmetric cell division. At the one-cell stage C. elegans embryo, the asymmetric localisation of the conserved PAR proteins defines the anteroposterior axis of the embryo. Following this polarisation the embryo divides asymmetrically, giving rise to two daughter cells which adopt different fates. We are investigating the mechanisms that control polarity establishment. In particular we study PAR protein degradation (Pacquelet et al., 2008) as well as the links between polarity and membrane traffic.

- Polarity in the intestine: from C. elegans to human diseases

In collaboration with Pr Frank Rümmele (group of Pr Nadine Cerf-Bensussan, Institut Imagine, Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades), we exploit the results obtained in C. elegans to better characterise the defects observed in Microvillous Atrophy, a rare intestinal disease.

Our research projects are supported by :

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