Evolution of Intercellular Signaling in Development : EvoInSiDe
Team leaders: Michael Schubert & Jenifer Croce
Evolution of Intercellular Signaling in Development : EvoInSiDe
Team leaders: Michael Schubert & Jenifer Croce

History and location of the team

The team Evolution of Intercellular Signaling in Development (EvoInSiDe) was created in 2012, upon the arrival of Michael Schubert at the Laboratoire de Biologie du Développement de Villefranche-sur-Mer (LBDV) and the fusion of his arriving group with that of Jenifer Croce already in place at the institute. The team is jointly animated by both principal investigators and addresses questions about the developmental functions and evolutionary diversification of two crucial intercellular signaling cascades (Wnt and retinoic acid signaling), using alternative animal model systems located at key phylogenetic positions in the animal tree of life, such as sea urchins, amphioxus, and lampreys.

Research Themes

The members of the EvoInSiDe team are studying a highly complex question: how to create an entire, multicellular organism from a single cell? Although it does not come as a surprise that this process relies on very well coordinated intercellular communication mechanisms, the discovery that the number of intercellular signals involved is relatively small and that they are being reused repeatedly during development for the patterning and formation of various tissues is rather astonishing.

In the EvoInSiDe team, we investigate and compare how intercellular signaling cascades regulate critical developmental processes in different animals to establish their biological functions and to determine conserved and divergent aspects of the molecular mechanisms underlying their activities.

Our goals are (1) to identify novel aspects of the activation, regulation, and downstream targets of these signaling systems, (2) to characterize the biological processes they are required for during development, (3) to understand how these pathways have evolved in metazoans, and (4) to assess their contribution to the diversification of animal body plans, focusing in particular on the deuterostome branch of the animal tree of life.

To reach these goals, we are studying the Wnt and retinoic acid signaling pathways, using mainly three alternative animal model systems: sea urchins (Paracentrotus lividus), amphioxus (Branchiostoma lanceolatum), and lampreys (Lampetra fluviatilis).

Ongoing projects

The current research activity of the EvoInSiDe team can be subdivided into three main axes:

Vitamin A (retinol) is a fat-soluble morphogen essential for the maintenance of various tissues and organs. Vitamin A and its derivatives, collectively referred to as retinoids, are also crucial for the promotion of vision, for immune and reproductive functions as well as for embryonic development. In vertebrates, the vitamin A-derived morphogen retinoic acid (RA) is the main mediator of retinoid-dependent intercellular signaling, a molecular process that is generally referred to as the RA signaling cascade or the RA pathway.

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Wnt signaling is one of the most fundamental intercellular signaling systems of multicellular animals and is required for the regulation of numerous biological processes both during embryogenesis and in adults. Within a target cell, the intercellular Wnt signaling system can trigger several different intracellular signal transduction cascades, including three main ones: the canonical Wnt/b-catenin pathway and the non-canonical planar cell polarity and calcium pathways. As of today, most studies on Wnt signaling have focused on the roles of these three intracellular pathways and their cross talk during development. In contrast, virtually nothing is known about the mechanisms underlying the recognition and binding specificities of individual Wnt proteins to their cognate Frizzled (Fzd) receptors and about the molecular processes leading to the activation, by a given ligand-receptor couple, of a particular intracellular Wnt pathway. This lack of knowledge, in turn, also hampers the characterization of the global biological responses triggered by Wnt signaling, both on a genomic and developmental level.

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The nervous system represents the single most important information relay system of multicellular animals. It coordinates voluntary and involuntary actions as well as transmission of signals between different parts of the body. The defining anatomical feature of nervous tissue is the presence of a particular cell type, the neuron. During nervous system development and maintenance, neurons arise from neural stem cells, but the current understanding of neural stem cell emergence and of the factors that regulate neural stem cell maintenance and their differentiation into neurons remains very fragmentary.

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Personnels Enseignants

Photo annuaire
Carine Barreau
+33 (0) 4 93 76 39 73
Bâtiment Jean-Maetz

Master Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire

Parcours Biologie Cellulaire et du Développement & Cellules Souches


Cette UE se déroule sur 2 semaines et a lieu au laboratoire de Biologie du Développement de Villefranche -sur-Mer (LBDV). Elle inclut l’examen de l’UE d’analyse scientifique (5V089) suivie par les étudiants de la spécialité de Biologie du Développement.

Durant la 1ère semaine, les étudiants participent à des ateliers et des rencontres avec les chercheurs du laboratoire.

Durant la 2ème semaine, les étudiants sont répartis dans les équipes pour y réaliser un mini projet qu’ils présentent le dernier jour du cours. Le cours est donné en anglais pour tout ou partie.

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Modalités  d’évaluation

Présentation orale du mini-projet (binôme, 100 %)  

UE en anglais (partiellement ou totalement)

Master BMC, S3, 6 ECTS

Code UE: 5V200

Responsable de l’UE: Carine BARREAU (MCU): carine.barreau [at] obs-vlfr.fr

Master Biologie Intégrative & Physiologie

Parcours Biologie et Bioressources Marines (BBMA)


Cette UE permet aux étudiants de 1ère année de Master de passer 2 semaines à l’Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer. Le cours est obligatoire pour les étudiants du Master Biologie Intégrative, parcours Biologie et Bioressources Marines (BBMA) tandis qu’il peut être choisi en option par les étudiants du Master Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (BMC). Les étudiants participent à des ateliers de présentation des organismes marins utilisés par les équipes de recherche du laboratoire (LBDV) et apprennent à les manipuler au cours de travaux pratiques dont les thématiques vont de la Biologie du Développement fondamentale à la toxicologie appliquée.

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Modalités  d’évaluation

Analyse d’article et présentation orale (50%)

Compte-rendu écrit de TP (50%)  

UE partiellement en anglais

Master BIP, S2, 6 ECTS

Code UE: 4B022 (ouverte au Master BMC)

Responsable de l’UE: Carine BARREAU (MCU): carine.barreau [at] obs-vlfr.fr

Licence de Sciences de la Vie

Parcours Biologie et Bioressources marines

Biologie Des Organismes Marins Et Diversité Des Recherches

Cette UE complémentaire se déroule sur 2 semaines et permet aux étudiants de découvrir les différents aspects (métiers & recherche) de l’Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer (OOV). Ateliers et journal clubs sont organisés afin que les étudiants mettent en pratique leurs connaissances théoriques en biologie et développent leur capacité de communication scientifique en français et en anglais.

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