Cellular Spatial Organization

Group leader

Cells come with stereotypical shapes and sizes which are often associated with their function. Neurons grow in highly elongated morphologies to build neuronal networks, while red blood cells have discoid-like deformable morphologies to squeeze within tiny blood vessels. Questions that fascinate our team are to understand how cells define their particular shape, and how information in cell geometry may be conveyed into cell function or in organizing the cell interior. To address these fundamental questions, we integrate original methods at the frontier between molecular biology, genetics and physics and mathematics. One of our ultimate goal is to capture biological behavior with mathematical models. The current main research area of our team include:

1- Division plane positioning

The proper positioning of the site of cell division is crucial not only for the survival of all cells, but also for the development of multi-cellular tissues. The lab is fascinated by the process of early embryogenesis during which the egg becomes fertilized and follows a stereotypical choreography of successive division, called cleavage patterns (Minc et al. Cell 2011; Tanimoto et al. J Cell Biol 2016). Our goal is to understand, predict and establish quantitative laws that explain the patterning of cell divisions in early embryos. To this end, we combine mathematical modelling, imaging and biophysics approaches. Our model experimental system is the sea urchin embryo, which integrates many advantages for the study of early development (Movie 1). To extend our findings to other multicellular context, we also have collaboration with other labs, working on flies, frogs, fishes and ascidians (Campinho et al. Nat Cell Biol 2013; Bosveld et al. Nature 2016).

2- Cell shape and polarity

The morphology of single cells as well as cells embedded in tissues underlie many of their function. We seek to address how cells develop their particular shape and internal organization. For instance, many cells only grow at a given location, a process called polarized growth, which involves specific biochemical reactions needed to cluster a local domain of growth activity. To study these aspects we use a unicellular fungi called fission yeast. These cells have rod-shapes and are genetically tractable, with many mutants defective in morphogenesis. These cells are encased in a stiff cell wall and are turgid, which provides them with particular mechanical properties. One of our ultimate goal is to link biochemical and biomechanical signals which serve to shape cells.

The group is supported by the European Research Council (ERC CoG, H2020, Europe), Marie Curie "Career Integration Grant" (FP7, Europe), Innovative Training Networks grant (FP7, Europe) and the City of Paris.

Sélection of publications

Tanimoto H, Kimura A, Minc N. (2016) “Shape-motion relationships of centering microtubule asters.” J. Cell. Biol., 212(7):777-87.

Bosveld F, Markova O, Guirao B, Martin C, Wang Z, Pierre A, Balakireva M, Gaugue I, Ainslie A, Christophorou N, Lubensky DK, Minc N, Bellaïche Y. (2016), "Epithelial tricellular junctions act as interphase cell shape sensors to orient mitosis." Nature., 530(7591):495-8.

Bonazzi D, Haupt A, Tanimoto H, Delacour D, Salort D, Minc N, (2015) “Actin-Based Transport Adapts Polarity Domain Size to Local Cellular Curvature.” Curr. Biol., 25(20):2677-83.

Haupt A, Campetelli A, Bonazzi D, Piel M, Chang F, Minc N. (2014), “Electrochemical regulation of budding yeast polarity.” Plos. Biol., 12(12):e1002029.

Bonazzi D, Julien JD, Romao M, Seddiki R, Piel M, Boudaoud A, Minc N. (2014), “Symmetry breaking in spore germination relies on an interplay between polar cap stability and spore wall mechanics.” Dev Cell., 28(5):534-46.

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