Developmental biology laboratory

The IBPS-Developmental Biology Laboratory (LBD) addresses fundamental questions about the cellular, molecular, genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of development, meiosis and fertilization at multiple scales, from the single cell level to the whole organism level. 

The LBD builds on its long-standing expertise in many aspects of integrative developmental biology, using a wide variety of model organisms, including C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish, Xenopus, chicken, mice and plants. Several groups also work on human tissues and cells. The LBD is also firmly oriented toward a modern, quantitative an interdisciplinary vision of developmental biology. In this respect, our implantation within IBPS and in a multidisciplinary university campus is a strong advantage. 

Meiosis and early steps of development. We study the regulatory mechanisms involved in meiosis, fertilization and early steps of development, using cell biology approaches, imaging (in particular live imaging), electron microscopy, biochemistry and various model systems.

From stem cells to organs. We address the mechanisms of stem cell emergence and maintenance, as well as those by which progenitor cells acquire their fate and differentiate into mature functional cells in many contexts: muscle, tendon, adipose tissue, sensory organs, pancreas, hematopoiesis, kidney, brain.

Biochemical and mechanical control of morphogenesis. This theme includes the mechanisms of cell and tissue behaviour, intercellular communications, tissue morphogenesis and organogenesis. This theme has recently evolved to take into account the importance of mechanical forces in development. We study how physical forces and changes in cell or tissue mechanics contribute to development, and how the cells sense and respond to these physical forces.

From chromatin dynamics to phenotype: intrinsic and environmental controls. Over the years, the epigenetic control of developmental processes and of trans-generational transmission of characters has become a major and strong research area in the LBD. It includes the study of small RNAs and their role in chromatin dynamics, the analysis of the intrinsic robustness of gene regulatory networks and chromatin regulation as well as their sensitivity to the environment, and the study of post-transcriptional regulations and RNA metabolism.

Structure & Direction

The LBD harbours about 150 people, distributed in 17 research groups and 5 common services. It is affiliated to UPMC and CNRS (as “Unité Mixte de Recherche”, UMR 7622). The LBD harbours the Inserm “Equipe de Recherche Labellisée” (ERL) U1156.

The LBD direction team is composed of:

  • Sylvie Schneider-Maunoury (DR1 Inserm), director.
  • Frédérique Peronnet (DR2 CNRS), deputy director – administration and human resources.
  • Thierry Jaffredo (DR1 CNRS), Deputy director – technology development and implementation.

The LBD belongs to the Institut de Biologie Paris Seine (IBPS), a research federation (FR3631) headed by Michel Labouesse (DRCE CNRS), which gathers five research Units and a technological facility department.

Technological strengths

Model organisms are central to our work and their diversity is an asset of the LBD. They include amphibians Drosophila, chick, mouse, zebrafish, human and plants. In keeping with the diversity of models, a diversity of techniques is also used by different groups, ranging from molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, functional analysis of genes using state-of-the-art technologies specific for each model organism (in ovo/in utero electroporation, cell transplantation, genetic screens…), cell and explant culture, in vivo labelling, live-imaging, cell sorting, transcriptome and ChIP studies, biocomputing.

Our research increasingly relies on quantitative biology approaches, which include the acquisition and analysis of high-throughput data, quantitative cell imaging, and mathematical and physical modelling of developmental processes. For these approaches, we developed a number of collaborations with physicists, mathematicians and informaticians.

The LBD has strong expertise in imaging, including live imaging, on cells, organs and whole embryos and develops image analysis tools.

We also have significant expertise in genome-wide approaches of developmental mechanisms and gene regulations using transcriptomics, ChIP-seq, proteomics, and their bioinformatics analysis

The LBD has developed a laser microdissection platform that is open to external users.

Translational, medical and societal impact

Being primarily involved in fundamental research, the LBD has also connections with translational and medical research, often in collaboration with clinicians or human geneticists. Our projects have implications in health at many levels, indicated below

  • Reproduction: aneuploidy, infertility 
  • Genetic diseases: mitochondrial diseases, neurodevelopmental diseases and ciliopathies, kidney diseases 
  • Obesity
  • Tissue repair, regeneration: muscle and tendon repair, ex-vivo hematopoietic stem cell production and amplification
  • Cancer: leukemia, pancreatic cancer, brain cancer rhabdomyosarcoma

Our research also has potential applications in the domain of environment.

We are involved in applied research projects with private companies and food industry, as well as in the development of patents, which allows to rapidly exploit the data obtained in basic research.