Cell Cycle and Development

Group leader

Team's website

Our group is interested in the molecular mechanisms that control the cell cycle machinery during development.

Control of the cell cycle is a fundamental aspect of cell biology. Such control is essential for the normal development of an organism, which requires a precise orchestration of cell proliferation, cell differentiation and morphogenesis. Breakdown of cell cycle control has drastic consequences and leads to cell death, genome instability or deregulated growth, typical of cancer.
Despite considerable advances in our understanding of the mechanisms of cell cycle progression in single cells, much less is known about the coordination of the cell cycle and development in a multicellular context. For example, in the early C. elegans embryo, asymmetric cell divisions produce descendants whose cell cycle durations are different (Figure 1). This asynchrony appears essential for proper cell fate determination and normal development. Nevertheless, how this asynchrony is established and maintained during embryogenesis is poorly understood; the nature of the signaling events and targeted cell cycle components is still largely unknown.

WEB_page_figure_1.jpgweb page figure 1 52908

Figure 1: One-cell C. elegans embryos in mitosis (upper panel) stained with anti-tubulin antibodies (green) and co-stained with a DNA dye (bleu). The division of the one–cell embryo is asymmetric and gives rise to 2 blastomeres (AB and P1) of different sizes (middle panel), which divide asynchronously (lower panel). Chromosomes were visualized by GFP-tagged histone H2B (green). Dimension of the embryo: 55 (µm in width) X 30 (µm in height).

Our goal is to shed light on the molecular mechanisms governing cell cycle division during animal development. We are using as a model system the nematode C. elegans, since this organism provides a powerful setting in which cell cycle control can be genetically analyzed during development by combining cell biology techniques and proteomics. More specifically, we are investigating the role and regulation of Cullin-RING ubiquitin-ligases (CRLs) during C. elegans development. CRLs are the largest family of ubiquitin-ligases, and its members selectively target diverse protein substrates such as cell cycle regulators for ubiquitin-dependent degradation by the 26S proteasome (Figure 2). Although the molecular composition of CRLs is beginning to emerge (Figure 3), only a small subset of substrates has as yet been identified.

We are focusing our research on the following questions:

  • What are the functions of CRLs during C. elegans development' What are their critical substrates and the function of these substrates'
  • How are CRLs regulated'
  • What is the molecular basis for distinct cell cycle duration in the early C. elegans embryo?

These studies, in which we aim to identify the basic molecular mechanisms that control cell cycle division in the context of animal development, are critical to our understanding of both development and oncogenesis.


Figure 2: The Ubiquitin-proteasome System:
Substrate proteins are linked to ubiquitin through a series of trans-thioesterification reactions catalyzed by a enzymatic cascade (E1  E2  E3). Reiteration of the catalytic cycle assembles a polyubiquitination chain, which acts to target the substrate to the 26S proteasome.


Figure 3: Composition of Cullin-RING Ligases (CRL)

Work in our laboratory is supported by the CNRS, the Association pour la recherche sur le cancer , the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale and the City of Paris.

Our group is part of the Labex “Who am I?”

Selection of Publications

Cdk1 plays matchmaker for the Polo-like kinase and its activator SPAT-1/Bora.
Tavernier N, Panbianco C, Gotta M, Pintard L.
Cell Cycle. 2015 Aug 3;14(15):2394-8.

Cdk1 phosphorylates SPAT-1/Bora to trigger PLK-1 activation and drive mitotic entry in C. elegans embryos.
Tavernier N, Noatynska A, Panbianco C, Martino L, Van Hove L, Schwager F, Léger T, Gotta M, Pintard L.
J Cell Biol. 2015 Mar 16;208(6):661-9

PAR-4/LKB1 regulates DNA replication during asynchronous division of the early C. elegans embryo.
Benkemoun, L. Descoteaux, C. Chartier, N. Pintard, L. and JC Labbé
J Cell Biol. 2014 205 (4) :447-455

Microtubule severing by the katanin complex is activated by PPFR-1-dependent MEI-1 dephosphorylation.
Gomes JE, Tavernier N, Richaudeau B, Formstecher E, Boulin T, Mains PE, Dumont J, Pintard L.
J Cell Biol. 2013 Aug 5;202(3):431-9.

CRL2LRR-1 E3-Ligase Regulates Proliferation and Progression through Meiosis in the Caenorhabditis elegans Germline. Burger J, Merlet J, Tavernier N, Richaudeau B, Arnold A, Ciosk R, Bowerman B, Pintard L.
PLoS Genetics. 2013 Mar; 9(3):e1003375.

Last modified 31 August 2017

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