Dissecting the Flow-induced Symmetry-Breaking of Animal Cell Division

Principal Investigator: 
University of British Columbia
Award Type: 

Morphogenesis is the process by which an organism develops its shape. Defects in this process are linked to several diseases and defects such as cancers, heart defects at birth, and cleft lip/palate. The study of morphogenesis is critical to understanding these conditions and identifying new treatments.  

Cytokinesis, a critical step of cell division that separates a dividing cell into two daughter cells, plays a major role in morphogenesis. It not only contributes to the multiplication of cells but also their arrangement within their space, giving rise to different structures.  It does this by controlling the position and orientation of division—a process called symmetry-breaking. The coordinated flow of a gel layer on the cell surface—cortical flow—is a driving force of symmetry-breaking.

The goal of this research is to understand the mechanisms that control cortical flow during morphogenesis. Using genetic methods and advanced microscopy in living cells, we have found new molecular pathways that control the speed and direction of cortical flow.

By shedding further light on these mechanisms our research will identify molecules and pathways which can be used to develop new medicines to prevent and cure morphogenesis defects.

Research Pillar: 
Host Institution: 
University of British Columbia