LMCB - MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology


New publication in Molecular Biology of the Cell for Pichaud Lab

The shape of cells determines the shape and function of organs.  However, how cell shape is controlled is not well understood. In this new study published in Molecular Biology of the Cell, the Pichaud lab reports an essential function for contractile medial actomyosin meshworks in shaping retinal cells during eye development.    

In this work, Dr Laura Blackie (former LMCB PhD student, now a post doc in the Miguel-Aliaga lab, Imperial College London) and colleagues also show that these contractile meshworks mediate mechanical coupling between different cell types as cells work together to assemble into a functional visual unit.   Mathematical modelling of retinal cell morphogenesis, in collaboration with the lab of Dr Shila Banerjee (former UCL IPLS colleague, now at the University of Pittsburgh, USA), and optogenetic perturbations reveal that as these cells acquire their shape, increased cell stiffness acts as a mechanism to limit this mechanical coupling.   Blackie et al propose this might be required during organogenesis where different cell types undergo concurrent morphogenesis and where averaging out of forces across cells could compromise individual cell apical geometry and thereby organ function.