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Yanlan Mao's picture

LMCB Group Leader, UCL Excellence Fellow, MRC Career Development Fellow

y.mao@ucl.ac.uk
+44 (0)20 7679 7267
LMCB Room 1.04

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Tissue Mechanics

Research Synopsis

The Mao lab uses an interdisciplinary approach - combining genetics, quantitative live imaging, experimental biophysics, engineering and computational modelling - to understand how tissues achieve their correct size, shape and complex three dimensional architecture, both during normal development and during regenerative growth. The genetic and biochemical control of tissue growth and regeneration has been extensively studied over the last century, but it is still unclear how the physical and mechanical properties of cells and tissues contribute to how organs are formed and sculpted. What is clear is that in order to change the three-dimensional architecture of any structure, there must be forces, external and/or internal, acting on the system. Therefore, to fully understand how a tissue reaches its appropriate size, pattern and architecture, we are not only studying its genetic and biochemical properties, but also its physical and mechanical characteristics, and in particular the interplay between the mechanical cues and the biochemical signaling pathways. We use an interdisciplinary approach, combining Drosophila genetics, live imaging, automated image analysis, experimental biophysics, engineering and computational modeling, to understand the importance of mechanical forces in controlling tissue growth and regeneration and how these forces in turn influence gene expression and signaling pathways.

Selected Publications

Heller D, et al (2016). EpiTools: An Open-Source Image Analysis Toolkit for Quantifying Epithelial Growth Dynamics. Developmental Cell, 36 (1), 103-116. doi:10.1016/j.devcel.2015.12.012
Sanchez-Gutierrez D, et al (2015). Fundamental physical cellular constraints drive self-organization of tissues. EMBO JOURNAL, 35 (1), 77-88. doi:10.15252/embj.201592374
Mao Y & Baum B (2015). Tug of war-The influence of opposing physical forces on epithelial cell morphology.DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY, 401 (1), 92-102. doi:10.1016/j.ydbio.2014.12.030
Mao Y, et al (2013). Differential proliferation rates generate patterns of mechanical tension that orient tissue growth.The EMBO Journal, 32 (21), 2790-2803. doi:10.1038/emboj.2013.197
Mao Y, et al (2011). Planar polarization of the atypical myosin Dachs orients cell divisions in Drosophila. Genes & Development, 25 (2), 131-136. doi:10.1101/gad.610511

Funders

Medical Research Council
Wellcome Trust
UCL Excellence Fellowship
European Commission Horizon 2020
 

Research Themes

Cytoskeleton and cell cortex, Polarity and cell shape, Signalling pathways, Cell-cell interactions, Physics of biological systems, Tissue growth and morphogenesis, Tissue repair and regeneration

Technology

Light microscopy, Electron microscopy, Computational modeling, Super-resolution microscopy

People

Melda Tozluoglu (Postdoctoral Fellow)
Robert Tetley (Postdoctoral Fellow)
Alice Roycroft (Research Associate)
Natalie Kirkland (PhD Student)
Ricardo Barrientos (PhD Student)
Filippos Ioannou (PhD Student)
Alejandra Herrera Guzman (PhD student)
 

Collaborators

Buzz Baum (LMCB, UK)
Ewa Paluch (LMCB, UK)
Franck Pichaud (LMCB, UK)
Jason Mercer (LMCB, UK)
Jemima Burden (LMCB, UK)
Jose Munoz (UPC Barcelona, Spain)
Guillaume Charras (LCN, UCL, UK)
Luis Escudero (Seville University, Spain)
Andreas Hoppe (Kingston University, UK)
Konrad Basler (UZH, Switzerland)
Matthieu Piel (Institut Curie, France)