The Institut Jacques-Monod, funded jointly by the CNRS and the University Paris Diderot, is one of the main centers for basic research in biology in the Paris area.
It is headed by Michel Werner, Research Director.

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IJM News

  • New insights into the polarization of multicellular epithelia

    Multi-ciliated epithelia play an important role in respiratory function. In humans, multi-ciliated cells are particularly needed for respiratory clearance, a mechanism that allows renewing the protective mucus barrier protecting the lungs from pathogens and dust. Disturbances in the function of these cells caused by certain genetic mutations can thus be at the origin of severe respiratory diseases. An international collaboration between two teams form the IJM and the Max Planck Institute in Dresden has highlighted a novel mechanism for controlling the direction of ciliary beat in a multicellular epithelium. Using an invertebrate model, the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea, researchers have shown that the joint action of two conserved signaling pathways can generate a ciliary pattern that reflects the bilateral symmetry of the animal itself. However, the elements of the cytoskeleton on which the polarity signals act to orient the cilia exhibit chiral asymmetry. This work thus allowed to identify new molecular actors in the polarization of multi-ciliated epithelia, but also to understand how the so-called Bilaterian animals, of which we are part, can generate a bilateral symmetry from chiral molecules or structures.

  • Des pincettes en ADN pour étudier l’interaction entre une médicament et sa cible à l’échelle molécule-unique

    L’efficacité d’un médicament est fortement liée au temps que la molécule médicamenteuse passe accolée à sa cible, typiquement une protéine. Bien souvent si l’interaction est de longue durée la drogue aura un effet plus fort que si l’interaction est de courte durée. Une équipe pluridisciplinaire vient de décrire dans la revue Nature Nanotechnology une nouvelle approche à très haute résolution permettant d’observer, en temps réel, l’interaction d’une seule molécule médicamenteuse avec une seule molécule de cible. Cette observation du « quantum » d’interaction moléculaire ouvre de nouvelles perspectives dans le développement des médicaments mais aussi des anticorps thérapeutiques et de la science des matériaux.

  • News from the third branch of humanity, the Denisovans

    A tiny fragment of a finger bone from Denisova cave in Siberia containing exceptionally well preserved DNA led in 2010, through the analysis of its genome, to the discovery of a previously unknown human population, the Denisovans, a sister-group of Neandertals. Denisovans have been documented living in the Middle and Upper Pleistocene (at least between 50,000 and 195,000 years ago) in southern Siberia and Tibet, but have left traces in the genomes of present-day populations in Melanesia and, to a lesser extent, in some populations in Asia. Yet, due to the scarcity of identified skeletal remains, almost nothing is known about their physical appearance. In the framework of an international, interdisciplinary collaboration coordinated by Eva-Maria Geigl, the Epigenome & Paleogenome group of the Institut Jacques Monod measured and photographed another fragment of the phalanx, analyzed its mitochondrial genome and demonstrated that it as the larger part of the famous phalanx that had yielded the first Denisovan genome. Paleoanthropologists from PACEA, University of Bordeaux, and from the Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Canada, reconstructed the image of the complete phalanx (Figure) and performed careful morphometric analyses of the measurements and pictures of the phalanx and comparison with finger phalanges of Neandertals and anatomically modern humans. This analysis shows that the finger phalanx of the Denisovan woman is close in shape to that of anatomically modern humans, in contrast to the molars and a recently identified mandible from Tibet. Thus, Denisovans seem to have mosaic characters that may challenge paleoanthropologists searching for Denisovan skeletal remains to better characterize morphologically this “third” branch of humanity.

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