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M. Balland & T. Boudou

A minimalistic tissue model to study morphogenesis

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Morphogenesis involves finely regulated changes in tissue properties such as stiffness and motility. Central to tissue dynamics is the capacity of cells to stabilize or, on the contrary, remodel cell-cell contacts, thus respectively opposing or favouring cell movements and tissue reorganization and ultimately stability. T0-T1 transition is known as a basic mechanism for cell-cell rearrangement in epithelium organisation. Such transition is a key feature of proper embryo morphogenesis. In this internship we aim at studying this fundamental transition following a bottom up approach.
To this end we will use cell micro patterning to create quadruplet of cells mimicking the basic unit of living tissue pavement. The observation of those minimalistic epithelium models in combination with traction force microscopy will enable us to unravel the underlying tension distribution at the origin of epithelium mechanical stability. We will then use optogenetic as a tool to modulate cell contractility in order to induce T0-T1 transition.
This project combines quantitative live imaging with biophysical methods to address a key unanswered question : How tension are distributed in epithelial architecture and how those forces are dynamically regulate to ensure cell reorganization during morphogenesis while keeping tissue integrity ?

Background and skills expected : The student should be either a physicist or a biologist, who would like to work at the interface between the two disciplines.

Competences that will be acquired during the internship : Cell culture and manipulation, microfluidics, micropatterning, microscopy and data analysis.

Martial Balland (
Thomas.Boudou (