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Dr Bénédicte Sanson


In vivo mechanisms of morphogenesis in early embryos:  A key frontier in developmental biology is to understand the mechanisms of morphogenesis, which is how tissues and organs are shaped into functional tridimensional structures. This requires understanding, in the context of a tissue, the molecular mechanisms controlling cell behaviours such as cell shape changes, cell rearrangements, programmed cell death or cell division orientation. Also, at the tissue scale, we need to understand how individual cell behaviours coordinate and integrate mechanically to shape a tissue. We address these questions in early Drosophila embryos, during gastrulation and early segmentation. The advantage of this model is the powerful genetics, but also the extensive knowledge that we have of the early patterning events and the ease of imaging Drosophila embryos live. We are currently exploring how cell behaviours are controlled during axis extension and tissue boundary formation, two processes which are conserved in all bilateral animals (See Monier et al, 2010, Nature Cell Biology, 2: 60-5; Butler et al, 2009, Nature Cell Biology 11: 859-64; We use a range of approaches, including cell biology, confocal microscopy (including light sheet imaging) and computational analysis of cell behaviours. Many possible projects are available in the lab; please contact if interested.


  1. St Johnston and Sanson, B. (2011) Epithelial polarity and morphogenesis. Curr Opin Cell Biol  23: 540-546. doi:10.1016/  
  2. Monier, B., Pelissier-Monier, A., Brand, A.H., and Sanson, B. (2010) An actomyosin-based  barrier inhibits cell mixing at compartmental boundaries in Drosophila embryos. Nat Cell Biol 12: 60- 65.  Butler et al, 2009, Nature Cell Biology 11: 859-64. doi:10.1038/ncb2005  
  3. Butler, L.C., Blanchard, G.B., Kabla, A.J., Lawrence, N.J., Welchman, D.P., Mahadevan, L., Adams, R.J., and Sanson, B. (2009) Cell shape changes indicate a role for extrinsic tensile forces in Drosophila germ-band extension. Nat Cell Biol 11: 859-864. doi:10.1038/ncb1894

Dr Bénédicte Sanson

Dr Bénédicte Sanson
Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience
Office Phone: 01223 333893