Understanding the molecular and mechanical basis of development

Morphogenesis (generation of form) is one of the most remarkable process in biology and involves the interplay of molecular and physical events that coordinate cell differentiation and cell migration. Our aim is to understand the molecular and mechanical basis of morphogenesis during embryonic development, using an interdisciplinary approach which includes cell and molecular biology, together with mechanobiology and mathematical modelling.

Understanding the molecular and mechanical basis of development

Morphogenesis (generation of form) is one of the most remarkable process in biology and involves the interplay of molecular and physical events that coordinate cell differentiation and cell migration. Our aim is to understand the molecular and mechanical basis of morphogenesis during embryonic development, using an interdisciplinary approach which includes cell and molecular biology, together with mechanobiology and mathematical modelling.

Understanding the molecular and mechanical basis of development

Morphogenesis (generation of form) is one of the most remarkable process in biology and involves the interplay of molecular and physical events that coordinate cell differentiation and cell migration. Our aim is to understand the molecular and mechanical basis of morphogenesis during embryonic development, using an interdisciplinary approach which includes cell and molecular biology, together with mechanobiology and mathematical modelling.

What we do?

Neural Crest Induction

Embryonic induction is the process by which signals from one tissue change the fate of another adjacent tissue during development. We are interested in identifying the molecular and mechanical cues that control neural crest induction during early development

Xenopus neural lineages

Cell migration

Cell migration isessential for development and homeostasis. Our aim is to understand the molecular signals and physical events that control cell migration in vivo. We use two of the most migratory cell types during embryo development: the neural crest and macrophages.

Cell differentiation

Cell differentiation has been mainly studied as the consequence of a genetic cascade activated by molecular signals. We would like to understand how mechanical and molecular signals interplay in controlling fate decision during cell differentiation.

Experimental approaches

People

Roberto Mayor
Professor of Developmental and Cellular Neurobiology

Named International Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), EMBO member and member of the Latin American Academy of Sciences. Editor in Chief of the journals Cells & Development and Gene Expression Patterns and associate editor of many others. Founder and first president elect of the Latin American Society of Developmental Biology (LASDB).

r.mayor@ucl.ac.uk

Adam Shellard
Research Fellow
Mechanisms of cell migration and morphogenesis


adam.shellard.13@ucl.ac.uk

Lucas Alvizi
Postdoc
Epigentics of neural crest development



l.alvizi@ucl.ac.uk

Jonas Hartmann
Postdoc
Long term EMBO fellowship

Systems microscopy of cell shape and cell fate

jonas.hartmann@ucl.ac.uk

Namid Stillman
Postdoc
The intersection of biomechanics, statistical physics, and machine learning


n.shatil@ucl.ac.uk

Hoang Anh Le (Anh)
Postdoc
Sir Henry Wellcome Fellowship
Macropinocytosis in cell migration


anh.le@ucl.ac.uk

Amrutha Patkunarajah
Postdoc
Mechano-sensing in neural crest cell migration


a.patkunarajah@ucl.ac.uk

Jorge Diaz
Postdoc
Non-canoncial mechanism of neural crest cell migration


jorge.diaz@ucl.ac.uk

Delan Alasaadi
PhD Student
Neural crest induction



delan.alasaadi.18@ucl.ac.uk

Matyas Bubna-Litic
PhD Student
Mechanics guided control of early cell fate decisions


m.bubna-litic@ucl.ac.uk

John Qi
PhD Student
Mechanics of stem cell neural crest



john.qi.19@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Brenda Canales Coutiño
Hon. Research Fellow
Mechanosensitivity in migrating cells



b.coutino@ucl.ac.uk

Alumni

Melisa Turan, PhD student
Oliver Cameron, MRes student
Soraya Villaseca, visiting PhD student
Elias Barriga, EMBO Postdoc
Jaime Espina, visiting PhD student
Nil Ege, Postdoc
Maria Belen Palacio, visiting PhD student
Andras Szabo, Marie Curie Postdoc
Maria Kotini, PhD student
Isabel Bahm, PhD student
Emily Atala, MRes student
Manuela Melchinda, PhD student, Postdoc
Alice Roycroft, PhD student
Alfredo Samsone, Marie Curie Postdoc
Elena Scarpa, PhD student
Sophie Mclachlan, PhD student
Jon Leslie, Postdoc
Marta Caldeira, MRes student
Gabriela Toro, visiting PhD student
Rachel Moore, PhD student
Eric Thevenau, Postdoc
Roger Escofet, PhD student
Mae Woods, PhD student
Isidoro Cobo, PhD student
Ben Steventon, PhD student, Postdoc
Carlos Carmona-Fontaine, PhD student
Mauricio Moreno, Postdoc
Bo Li, PhD student
Sei Kuriyama, Postdoc
Helen Matthews, PhD student
Lorena Marchant, Postdoc
Manuel Aybar, Postdoc
Francisca Ayala, PhD student
Celeste Tribulo, PhD student
Stella Maris Honore, PhD student
Jaime De Calisto, BSc student
Claudio Araya, BSc student
Leo Validivia, BSc student
Sandra Villanueva, PhD student
Alvaro Glavic, PhD student
Carlos Martinez, BSc student
Nestor Guerreo, BSc student
Alejandra Mancilla, Postdoc
Jose Luis Gomez-Skarmeta, Postdoc
Rodrigo Young, BSc student
Pablo Ruiz, BSc student
Claudia Linker, Postdoc

Group pictures (1997- present)

Selected Publications

For a full list of publications click here:

Shellard A, Mayor R. (2021).
Collective durotaxis along a self-generated stiffness gradient in vivo
Nature. 600:690-694
https://doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-04210-x

Canales Coutino, Mayor R. (2021).
The mechanosensitive channel Piezo1 cooperates with semaphorins to control neural crest migration
Development. 148, dev200001.
https://doi: 10.1242/dev.200001

Shellard A, Mayor R. (2021)
Durotaxis: The Hard Path from In Vitro to In Vivo.
Dev Cell
. 56,227-239.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2020.11.019

Shellard A, Mayor R. (2020).
All Roads Lead to Directional Cell Migration.
Trends Cell Biol. 30, 852-868.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tcb.2020.08.002

Barriga EH, Franze K, Charras G, Mayor R (2018).
Tissue stiffening coordinates morphogenesis by triggering collective cell migration in vivo.
Nature. 554, 523-527
https://doi.org/10.1038/nature25742

Shellard A, Szabó A, Trepat X, Mayor R. (2018).
Supracellular contraction at the rear of neuralcrest cell groups drives collective chemotaxis.
Science. 362, 339-343
https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aau3301

Stramer B and Mayor R. (2017).
Mechanisms and in vivo functions of contact inhibition of locomotion.
Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol.18, 43-55.
https://doi.org/10.1038/nrm.2016.118

Mayor R, Etienne-Manneville S.(2016).
The front and rear of collective cell migration.
Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol
https://doi.org/10.1038/nrm.2015.14

Scarpa E, Szabó A, Bibonne A, Theveneau E, Parsons M, Mayor R. (2015).
Cadherin Switch during EMT in Neural Crest Cells Leads to Contact Inhibition of Locomotion via Repolarization of Forces.
Dev Cell. 34, 421-34 [PMC4552721]
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2015.06.012

Kuriyama S, Theveneau E, Benedetto A, Parsons M, Tanaka M, Charras G, Kabla A, Mayor R. (2014).
In vivo collective cell migration requires an LPAR2-dependent increase in tissue fluidity.
J Cell Biol. 206, 113-27.[PMC4085712]
https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201402093

Theveneau E, Steventon B, Scarpa E, Garcia S, Trepat X, Streit A, Mayor R. (2013).
Chase-and-run between adjacent cell populations promotes directional collective migration.
Nature Cell Biol. 15, 763-72. [PMC4910871]
https://doi.org/10.1038/ncb2772

Carmona-Fontaine C, Matthews HK, Kuriyama S, Moreno M, Dunn GA, Parsons M, Stern CD, Mayor R. (2008). Contact inhibition of locomotion in vivo controls neural crest directional migration.
Nature.456, 957-61. [PMC2635562]
https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07441

Contact

Where to find us?

Anatomy Building
University College London
Gower St, London
WC1E 6XA