Bioelectrics Fields & Neural Crest Cell migration

Bioelectrics Fields & Neural Crest Cell migration

By In Aiv Internship On June 1, 2018

Internship title: Bioelectrics Fields & Neural Crest Cell migration

Name: Matière Systèmes Complexes
Affiliation: Université Paris Diderot/CNRS UMR 7057, Sorbonne Paris Cité
Address: 10 rue Alice Domon et Léonie Duquet

LAB Director
Name: Laurent Limat
Phone number: +33157277000

Name: Nicolas Chevalier
Phone number: +33157276259

Subject Keywords: cell migration, neural crest cells, Hirschsprung disease, electric fields, bioelectricity
Tools and methodologies: organ culture, confocal microscopy, microdissection, image analysis
Summary of lab’s interests: Our lab works on physical embryogenesis, the study of how mechanical strain [1,2] or electrical fields generated within the embryo influence, guide and control its development. The enteric nervous system (ENS) is the intrinsic innervation of the gut, it is comprised of 100 million neurons which are remarkably independent from the central nervous system: the ENS is nicknamed the “second brain”.

[1] Chevalier, N. R. et al. How tissue mechanical properties affect enteric neural crest cell migration. Sci. Rep. 6, 20927 (2016).
[2] Chevalier, N. R. et al. Mechanical Tension Drives Elongational Growth of the Embryonic Gut. Sci. Rep. 8, (2018).
Project summary: During embryonic development, the ENS arises from a population of highly migratory pluripotent cells, the enteric neural crest cells (ENCCs). ENCC migration defects give rise to a severe pediatric gut pathology, Hirschsprung disease, that affects 1 in 4000 births. 50% of Hirschsprung disease cases do not have to date any known genetic etiology (=cause). Recent research in the field of bioelectricity has shown that cell membrane potential and the resulting electric fields they generate in the tissue can have dramatic influences on the proliferation and invasiveness of cell populations during embryogenesis [2]. The role of endogenous electric fields during enteric neural crest cell migration and their implications for Hirschsprung disease have however never been investigated. The goal of this internship will be to make a first step in this direction by investigating how hyper- or hypo-polarization agents affect neural crest migration on a simple animal model, the chicken embryo. Research will be carried in collaboration with the group of Michael Levin (Tufts University, Boston, USA).

[2] Morokuma, J. et al. Modulation of potassium channel function confers a hyperproliferative invasive phenotype on embryonic stem cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105, 16608–16613 (2008).

Interdisciplinary aspect of the project: The internship is at the crossroad of physics (electricity, membrane potential), developmental biology and medicine.