Sophie Martin Group

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology - Faculty of Science, University of Geneva

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Sciences III - University of Geneva
Room 1017B - 1st floor
30, quai Ernest-Ansermet
CH - 1211 Geneva 4

Phone: +41 (0)22 379 68 11
Fax: +41 (0)22 379 68 68

Sophie Martin
Full professor

Project at a glance

Mechanisms of cell polarization and cell fusion

Cell polarity is a fundamental property of most cell types. The ability of cells to organize spatially underlies their function across organisms. Cell polarity is for instance essential for the organisation of the fertilized egg to pattern the developing body plan, for epithelial cells to build protective barriers or for neurons to convey long-distance signals. Cell polarity is similarly critical for the ability of simple, single-celled organisms to proliferate, penetrate substrate or find a mate for reproduction.

The lab aims to understand in molecular details how cells polarize, organize their cytoskeleton and their membrane to achieve polarized growth, division and cell fusion. We make use of the awesome power of the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, a simple organism that encodes only 5000 genes with extensive evolutionary conservation with humans, which offers a large palette of tools and displays a rich physiology.

By using a combination of quantitative live-cell imaging, electron microscopy, genetic and biochemical approaches, we probe fundamental principles of cell polarization, address how cells orient in response to an external stimulus to find a mate for sexual reproduction and study how cells then fuse together to form the diploid zygote.