Published on December 7, 2018 | Updated on January 29, 2019

CORTEX conference by Valérie Castellani

December 20th, 2012

Exploring the links between topography and polarity in the developing nervous system

Polarization, which confers asymmetry at molecular, cellular and tissue scales, is a fundamental process establishing key features of biological systems. In multicellular organisms, symmetry breaking triggers the specification of embryonic body axes, providing general landmarks for subsequent morphogenetic programs. Cells and tissues acquire complex morphological and functional polarity features, which, remarkably, are highly precisely positioned within the general body landmarks. The lab is interested in understanding the mechanisms setting the spatial orientation of some selected polarity processes, taking place during the formation of the nervous system. We investigate the topography of progenitor cell divisions, and neuronal differentiation, using the developing spinal cord and sensorimotor circuits as a model. We also investigate how topographic cues impact on a closely related pathological context, the neuroblastoma, a neuro-developmental cancer arising from trunk neural cell crest. We exploit chick and mouse embryo animal models, combined with live imaging, cell and tissue cultures and molecular approaches.