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Cell Biology Departement

Leader : Renaud LEGOUIS

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Cells are the smallest autonomous functional units of life and have the potential to achieve many different physiological processes. They constitute the central point between the molecular and macroscopic scales and, if we are to understand the functioning of living organisms, we need first to understand the principles underlying cellular organization and function. Most cellular processes, such as signaling, membrane trafficking, cytoskeletal and organelle dynamics and cell division, should be considered as integrated events rather than independent processes. Analyses of biological processes still require the careful mechanistic dissection of individual proteins and functions, but now also go beyond such approaches, by addressing molecular complexes, pathways and even the entire system. One of the main challenges in the field of cell biology is bridging the gap between cellular systems and the physiology of tissue and organs in higher organisms, to gain an understanding of pathological conditions.

The Cell Biology Department is composed of 11 groups using various eukaryotic cells or organisms as model systems, from unicellular protozoa or fungi, to higher plants and mammals, to analyze the molecular mechanisms governing the physiological functions of living cells and the effects on these functions of interactions with the environment. The aim of the CB Department is to study the coordination of cellular processes to maintain homeostasis in living cells and organisms. Its scientific research follows to main axes:

Thematic Cellular Compartmentalization and Communication
A. Delahodde : Functions and Dysfunctions of Mitochondria
N. Bonnefoy : Biogenesis and Functioning of Mitochondrial Oxphos Complexes in Yeasts and Mammals
A.M. Tassin : Biogenesis and Function of Centriolar and Ciliary Structure
C. Merrifield : Cytoskeletal dynamics and membrane trafficking
B. Satiat Jeunemaître : Dynamics of Cell Compartmentalization in Plant Cell
F. Giordano : Lipid trafficking and membrane contact sites


Thematic Signaling, Stress and Adaptation
G. Vert : Plant Cell Signaling and Ubiquitin
R. Legouis : Autophagy and Development
A.M. Pret : Cell Signaling and Morphogenesis
J. Montagne : Growth& Metabolism in Drosophila
S. Thomine : Integrated Ion Transport
M. Toledano : Oxidative Stress and Cancer


The expertise of the CB teams concerning specific cellular processes, subcellular compartments or organelles will make it possible to develop an integrative view of cell dynamics and organization. This aspect is a key concern common to all the teams of the CB Department, which share the aim of improving our understanding of the way in which modifications of basic cellular processes in response to endogenous developmental programs or environmental cues affect the whole organism, causing functional disorders, diseases or a loss of productivity. As basic cell biology processes have been strongly conserved during eukaryote evolution, the presence within the CB Department of groups using single cells, animal and plant models will make it possible to integrate numerous complementary approaches, enabling us to understand how cellular processes are coordinated to maintain the homeostasis of living organisms in their environment. In this respect, the CB Department has considerable potential for the development of comparative cell biology approaches, a field sometimes referred to as “evo-cellulo” studies.

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