LMCB - Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology

Yanlan Mao's picture

LMCB Group Leader, UCL Professor of Developmental Biophysics
MRC Senior Fellow
Deputy Director of UCL IPLS

+44 (0)20 7679 7267
LMCB Room 2.12

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Lister Prize Fellowship Presentation
Twitter @YanlanMao

Tissue mechanics

Research synopsis

In the Mao lab we are interested in understanding 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.

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.

Mao lab research imageMao lab research image

Selected publications

Kirkland NJ, et al (2020). Tissue Mechanics Regulate Mitotic Nuclear Dynamics during Epithelial Development. Current Biology (PMID:32413305)
Guzmán-Herrera A & Mao Y (2019). Polarity during tissue repair, a multiscale problem. Curr Opin Cell Biol (PMID:31514044)
Vicente-Munuera P et al (2019). EpiGraph: an open-source platform to quantify epithelial organization. Bioinformatics (PMID:31544932)
Tetley R, et al (2019). Tissue fluidity promotes epithelial wound healing. Nature Physics. doi.org/10.1038/s41567-019-0618-1
Duda M, et al (2019). Polarization of Myosin II Refines Tissue Material Properties to Buffer Mechanical Stress. Dev Cell,  Jan 28;48(2):245-260.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2018.12.020.

About the lab


Medical Research Council
UCL Excellence Fellowship
European Commission Horizon 2020
Lister Institute
EMBO Young Investigator Programme
Leverhulme Trust

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


Light microscopy
Electron microscopy
Computational modeling
Super-resolution microscopy


Samantha Warrington (Lab manager, Research Associate)
Nargess Khalilgharibi (Research Associate)
Giulia Paci (Research Associate)
Pablo Vicente Munuera (Research Associate)
Ricardo Barrientos (Research Associate)
Alessandra Gentile (Research Associate, joint with Katie Long, KCL)
Alejandra Guzman-Herrera (PhD student)
James Van Hear (PhD student)
Shu En Lim (PhD student)
Veronika Lachina (PhD student)


Franck Pichaud (LMCB, UK)
Jemima Burden (LMCB, UK)
Katie Long (KCL, UK)
Eileen Gentleman (KCL, UK)
Chris Tape (UCL, UK)
Luigi Aloia (Astra Zeneca, UK)
Julien Vermot (Imperial College London, UK)
Jose Munoz (UPC Barcelona, Spain)
Guillaume Charras (LCN, UCL, UK)
Ewa Paluch (Cambridge University, UK)
Buzz Baum (MRC LMB, UK)
Luis Escudero (Seville University, Spain)