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(CeDRE team)
Team: "Reverse Engineering Cell Division" (CeDRE)

Research Interest in Biology

Fidelity and Robustness

How biological systems, despite their complexity and variability, can perform tasks with such an extraordinary fidelity and robustness? This question orients the research in the lab. Addressing such a question not only involves strong quantification methods and biophysics modeling to understand auto-organization but also involves molecular cell biology approaches on living organisms. This is essential to understand how cell biases such auto-organized or auto-regulation of the cell as a physical/mechanical systems (in the sense of systems biology) to perform a given task.

Cell Division Mechanics and Dynamics

We decided to focus on cell division since it is highly regulated and robust and features mechanical aspect (partitioning of chromosomes for example). If we get now a good knowledge of proteins involved in cell division and often have their detailed (in vitro) properties, we lack the understanding of how the interplay of these proteins results in a “working cell.” We aim to approach this question by a reverse-engineering to uncover not only the interactions in term of biology, chemistry or physics. It is striking to notice that cell’s design principles of a robust mechanism strongly differs from the ones commonly used in technical devices.

A model Organism Approach

From a more methodological point of view, we have opted for a model organism approach to unleash all the power of genetics and molecular biology in understanding cell division. The nematode (mainly Caenorhabditis elegans) is an established model of cell division, featuring a very dynamic embryonic division (which ease the biophysics studies) and a large size enabling us to use microscopy and image processing, some minimally perturbative techniques. We nevertheless envisage the link to human cells and broadly health, particularly on the cancer pathologies.