Physical Organogenesis of the Gut
Internship title: Physical Organogenesis of the Gut
Name: Laboratoire Matière et Systèmes Complexes
Affiliation: CNRS / Université Paris Diderot
Address: 10, rue Alice Dumon et Léonie Duquet, 75013 Paris
Name: Vincent Fleury
Phone number: +33601825601
Name: Nicolas Chevalier
Phone number: +33601825601
Subject Keywords: mecanobiology, bioelectricity, gut, embryo, regeneration
Tools and methodologies: dissection, biomechanical testing, organ culture, electrophysiology, tissue staining, biochemistry (WB, PCR), microscopy (optical, time-lapse, confocal, second harmonic generation etc.), image analysis (ImageJ), computational methods (Matlab, finite-element modeling)
Summary of lab’s interests: We work on physical embryogenesis, which is the study of how mechanical or electrical fields generated within the embryo influence, guide and control its development. This line of research is strongly interdisciplinary, it involves physics, developmental biology, physiology, genetics and medicine. We work on the development of a particular organ, the gut, a phenomenological gold mine. Our work is experimental and carried out mostly on chicken embryos, although we also use mice for genetic purposes.
Current topics developed in the lab include 1°) how physical forces [1,2] and bioelectricity  affect embryonic gut growth and regeneration, 2°) how the intrinsic innervation of the intestine (the enteric nervous system) wires up during embryonic development and couples to digestive peristaltic movements [4–6], 3°) how neural crest cells  migrate in the embryonic gut to give rise to the enteric nervous system – migration defects result in an ill-understood pathology, Hirschsprung disease.
1. Khalipina, D., Dacher, N. & Chevalier, N. Smooth muscle contractility causes anisotropic growth of the embryonic gut. Under review at Sci. Advances (2018).
2. Chevalier, N. R. et al. Mechanical Tension Drives Elongational Growth of the Embryonic Gut. Sci. Rep. 8, 1–10 (2018).
3. Levin, M., Pezzulo, G. & Finkelstein, J. M. Endogenous Bioelectric Signaling Networks: Exploiting Voltage Gradients for Control of Growth and Form. Annu. Rev. Biomed. Eng. (2017). doi:10.1146/annurev-bioeng-071114-040647
4. Chevalier, N. R., Fleury, V., Dufour, S., Proux-Gillardeaux, V. & Asnacios, A. Emergence and development of gut motility in the chicken embryo. PLoS One 12, e0172511 (2017).
5. Chevalier, N. R. The first digestive movements in the embryo are mediated by mechanosensitive smooth muscle calcium waves. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 373, 1759 (2018).
6. Chevalier, N. et al. Embryogenesis of the Peristaltic Reflex. J. Physiol. – under review (2019).
7. Chevalier, N. R. et al. How tissue mechanical properties affect enteric neural crest cell migration. Sci. Rep. 6, 20927 (2016).
Project summary: We are currently looking for highly motivated M1 or M2 students to join us in this research venture; the work can be pursued as a PhD. This internship will offer the possibility to develop strong experimental and analytical skills in biophysics and embryology: dissection, biomechanical testing, organ culture, electrophysiology, tissue staining, biochemistry (WB, PCR), microscopy (optical, time-lapse, confocal, second harmonic generation etc.), image analysis (ImageJ), computational methods (Matlab, finite-element modeling). Applications from outstanding students with various backgrounds will be considered (e.g. medicine, physics, physiology, biology…). The internship can start as from February 2019.
Interdisciplinary aspect of the project: This line of research is strongly interdisciplinary, it involves physics, developmental biology, physiology, genetics and medicine.