Parent Category: Laboratoires Published: Thursday, 16 February 2012

Transcriptional control of chordate morphogenesis



 Patrick LEMAIRE


 CRBM - UMR 5237

 1919, route de Mende, 34293









The general aim of our team is to understand how a linear genomic sequence can drive the dynamic formation of a complex 3D multicellular animal, using as a model system the simple embryos of close relatives of the vertebrates, the ascidians. Ascidians (>2300 species) are marine invertebrate chordates closely related to the vertebrates. Their embryos show an extraordinary conservation of cell lineages, cell fates and cell shapes, even between species separated by 500 MY of parallel evolution and whose genomes have considerably diverged. We are trying to understand how these highly conserved properties emerge from the action of individual molecules, and how evolutionary conservation of morphogenesis can occur in a context of rapid genome divergence.

Our work involves experimental and computational approaches and includes 4 axes:

1) Functional and comparative genomic approaches to reconstruct the gene regulatory networks driving early development

2) Transcriptional control of cell biology processes.

3) Advanced live imaging of development in wild and experimentally perturbed conditions.

4) Evolution of developmental programs within tunicates and between tunicates and vertebrates.


Keywords: Tunicates, Development, morphogenesis, transcription, computational biology.



Main publications

  • Lemaire P. (2011) Evolutionary crossroads in developmental biology: the tunicates, Development, 138(11):2143-52.
  • K. Sherrard *, F. Robin *, P. Lemaire#, E Munro# (2010) Sequential activation of apical and basolateral myosin drives endoderm invagination during ascidian gastrulation, Current Biology, 20(17):1499-510.
  • O. Tassy, D. Dauga, F. Daian, D. Sobral F. Robin, P. Khoueiry, D. Salgado, V. Fox, D. Caillol, R. Schiappa, B. Laporte, A. Rios, G. Luxardi, T. Kusakabe, J. S. Joly, S. Darras, L. Christiaen, M. Contensin, H. Auger, C. Lamy, C. Hudson, U. Rothbächer, M. J. Gilchrist, K. W. Makabe, K. Hotta, S. Fujiwara, N. Satoh, Y. Satou and P. Lemaire (2010) The ANISEED database: digital representation, formalisation and elucidation of a chordate developmental program. Genome Research, 20(10):1459-68
  • Khoueiry, P., Rothbächer, U. Frangulian, E. Daian, F. Roure, A. Dubchak, I. and Lemaire, P. (2010) A cis-regulatory signature in ascidians and flies, independent of transcription factor binding sites. Current Biology, 20(9):792-802.
  • D. Sobral, O. Tassy, P. Lemaire (2009) Highly variable transcriptional programs can lead to the chordate larval body plan Current Biology, 19(23):2014-9.
  • Lemaire P, Smith WC, Nishida H. (2008) Ascidians and the plasticity of the chordate developmental program. Current Biology 18: R620-R631.
  • Pasini, A., Amiel, A., Rothbächer, U., Roure, A., Lemaire P., and Darras, S. (2006) A two step model for the formation of the ascidian epidermal sensory neurons: insights into the origin of chordate peripheral nervous system. PLoS Biology 4(7):e225.
  • Lemaire, P. (2006) How Many Ways to Make a Chordate? Science 312:1145-1146.
  • Tassy, O., Daian, F., Hudson, C., Bertrand, V., Lemaire, P. (2006) A quantitative approach to the study of cell shapes and interactions during early chordate embryogenesis. Current Biology 16:345-58.
  • Bertrand V., Hudson C., Caillol D., Popovici C., Lemaire P. 2003 Neural tissue in ascidian embryos is induced by FGF9/16/20 acting via maternal GATA and ETS factors. Cell, 115, 615-627


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