Examples of our recent findings

Main questions in fundamental projects :

  • How different fates of muscle and heart cells are acquired ?
  • How Adult Muscle Precursors (AMPs) acquire their dormant state and are reactivated ?
  • How and why AMPs interact with the surrounding cells ?


Genetic control of muscle and heart cells development



Examples of our recent findings


  • Genetic control of muscle type-specific myoblast fusion

Code of identity genes and their downstream targets determine number of fusion events during myogenesis and the size of resulting muscles

Bataillé et al., Dev Cell, 2010, de Joussineau et al., Curr Top Dev Biol, 2012


  • Role of metabolism in muscle development : Glycolysis promotes myoblast fusion

Glycolytic genes are activated by Insulin pathway during muscle development and required for switching metabolism and for promoting myoblast fusion both in Drosophila and in vertebrates (zebrafish).

Glycolytic mutants display a “thin muscle phenotype” Tixier et al., PNAS, 2013



  • Muscle niche is required for the reactivation of dormant Adult Muscle Precursor cells

Aradhya, Zmojdzian et al., Elife, 2015



  • Discrete subset of Eve-pericardial cells contributes to the formation of cardiac outflow
We report that a subset of anteriorly located Eve cells develops into Hanging structure that links cardiac outflow with dorsal epidermis. Hanging structure plays mechanical role and is crucial for proper spatial positioning of the cardiac outflow
Zmojdzian et al., Development, 2018
  • AMPs are required for proper muscle innervation

Lavergne et al., Development 2020 in press

We observe that embryonic muscle stem cells (AMPs) interact with navigating motor axons and play an important role in muscle innervation.

Inversely, genetic ablation of SNa in larval stages leads to the loss of SNa associated AMPs indicating that motor axons are required for AMPs maintenance.

Lavergne et al., Development 2020 in press


Current fundamental projects:
A systems-level cell-specific view of muscle and heart cell diversification processes  

A systems-level cell-specific view of cardiac cell diversification processes

C. Dondi, K. Pascarel, G. Junion

Most organs are composed of multiple cell types necessary for their function. These cells may have a common origin and undergo a diversification step during development to acquire their own properties. The molecular mechanisms controlling these steps are highly conserved and their understanding is of prime therapeutic utility.

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A systems-level cell-specific view of muscle cell diversification processes

P. Poovathumkadavil, K. Pascarel, B. Bertin, Y. Renaud, G. Junion

We are applying Translating Ribosome Affinity Purification (TRAP) approach developed in the lab for rare cell populations to identify genes expressed specifically in three different muscle subsets (lb-, lms- and slou-positive) and in Adult Muscle Precursors (AMPs) at three different developmental time points. We are also developing single nuclei RNAseq and ATCseq approaches on all muscles and on muscle subsets.

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A systems approach for assessing the interactions of muscle stem cells with their niche


G. Lavergne, M. Zmojdzian, R. Aradhya


The understanding of the signals and intrinsic genetic determinants regulating the behaviour of muscle stem cells and their interactions with muscle niche represents a major challenge in developmental biology. Our experimental plan is designed to identify core genetic determinants of muscle stem cell-niche interactions applying a large set of genetic and imaging tools that allows following muscle stem cells in developing Drosophila embryos. We also observe muscle stem cell - motor neuron interactions which have impact on muscle innervation in embryos and on the other side play a role in maintenance of muscle stem cells in larval stages.

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Coordinated development of muscles and tendons of the Drosophila leg

B. Moucaud, L. Laddada, Q. Laurichesse, C. Soler

In drosophila, there are two phases of myogenesis. The first occurs in the embryo to produce the larval musculature. The second initiates in larval life to produce the musculature of the adult fly, including leg muscles, during metamorphosis after histolysis of larval muscles.  Virtually nothing is known about the mechanisms governing Drosophila appendicular myogenesis. However, our previous work showed that the complexity and the multifibre organization of the Drosophila leg musculature are similar to that of vertebrate muscles, making the development of Drosophila leg muscles an attractive model (Soler et al. 2004). 

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