François Fagotto

Parent Category: ROOT Published: Friday, 08 April 2016

 Cell adhesion and migration in embryonic development



 François FAGOTTO


 CRBM - UMR 5237

 1919, route de Mende, 34293 Montpellier


Phone: +33 4 34 35 95 24







We are interested to understand how the complex structure of adult organisms arises from an initial mass of undifferentiated embryonic cells. This complex transformation, called morphogenesis, involves a deep reorganization of the embryo, including large-scale migrations of entire groups of cells. We study morphogenesis of the Xenopus gastrula, one of the model systems most suitable for cell biological studies.


We have been interested in the mechanisms that prevent mixing of embryonic tissues, a crucial process required to maintain the integrity of the embryo structure. We have demonstrated that cells express specific sets of cell surface receptors, which serve as an identity code. Thus cells recognize “foreign” cells and respond by generating local repulsive reactions at the tissue interface.


Another fundamental aspect of tissue morphogenesis is the active movement of cells relative to each other, a very poorly understood process called intercellular migration. We are currently addressing two key questions on this topic: 1) How is the cytoskeleton regulated to transform an embryonic tissue in a fluid and migratory unit? 2) How are the cell-cell adhesive junctions remodelled to allow cells to migrate while maintaining the coherence of the tissue?


We are using advanced molecular and cell biology methods, including high resolution live imaging and image analysis, combined with biophysical approaches and computer simulation.


Keywords: Cell Developmental Biology, Morphogenesis, Cell adhesion, Cytoskeleton, Cell migration and invasion



Main publications : 


Canty L., Zarour E., Kashkooli L., François P. and Fagotto F. (2017) Sorting at embryonic boundaries requires high heterotypic interfacial tension. NATURE COMM. 8, 157.


Rohani N., Winklbauer R. and F. Fagotto. (2014) Ectoderm-mesoderm separation is controlled through selective repulsion generated by specific pairs of ephrins and Eph receptors. PLOS BIOLOGY 12, e1001955.

Fagotto F. (2014) The cellular basis of tissue separation. DEVELOPMENT 141, 3303-3318. (Review).

Wang L., Liu X., Gusev E., Wang C. and F. Fagotto. (2014) Regulation of β-catenin phosphorylation and nuclear/cytoplasmic transport by APC and its cancer-related truncated form. J. CELL SCIENCE 127, 1645-1659.

Maghzal N., Kayali H.A., Kajava A.V. and F. Fagotto.(2013) The tumor-associated protein EpCAM controls Erk signaling, actomyosin contractility and cell-cell adhesion by directly inhibiting PKC. DEVELOPMENTAL CELL 27, 263-27.

Fagotto F., Rohani N., Touret A.-S., Li R. (2013) Ephrin/Eph-dependent contact-induced contractility inhibits cadherin adhesion at the notochord boundary. DEVELOPMENTAL CELL 27, 72–87.  

Fagotto F. (2013) Looking beyond the Wnt pathway for the deep nature of b-catenin. (Review) EMBO REP. 14, 422-233.

Rohani N., Canty L., Luu O., Fagotto F.* and Winklbauer R.* (2011) EphrinB/EphB-signaling controls embryonic germ layer separation by contact-induced cell detachment. PLoS BIOLOGY 9, e1000597. * Corresponding authors.

Maghzal N., Vogt E., Reintsch W.E., Fraser J. and F. Fagotto. (2010) The tumor associated EpCAM regulates morphogenetic movements through intracellular signaling. J. CELL BIOLOGY 191, 645-659.

Schohl A. and F. Fagotto (2002). b-catenin, MAPK, and Smad signaling during early Xenopus development. DEVELOPMENT 129, 37-52.

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