Our team focuses on forces and movements of subcellular structures during cell division. We adopt a "systems" approach to decipher the mechanisms making the division robust to perturbations. Those are for example mechanical deformation or chromosome aberrations.

Robustness is an ambivalent property because it allows proper development, from a one-cell embryo to a complex multicellular organism such as human, but also contribute to genesis and resisting of cancerous cells, because it allows tumor cells to resist anti-cancer drugs and to develop despite the many errors that they have accumulated.

We use state-of-the-art genetic and micorscopy tools to record high-quality movies allowing us to extract quantitative data from cell division movies.

Below is an exemple of a movie acquired during the first cell division of a geneticaly engineered C.elegans embryo expressing two different types of fluorescent fusion proteins. The left panel displays microtubules associated fluorescent protein. The right panel shows chromosomes associated fluorescent protein signal. The central panel is a fake-color merge of both microtubule-associated and chromosomes-associated signals. Such movies enable us to simultaneously monitor the behaviour of these subcellular structures.




  • Only three principal components account for inter-embryo variability of the spindle length over time.
    Le Cunff Y., Chesneau L., Pastezeur S., Pinson X., Soler N., Fairbass D., Mercat B., Rodriguez Garci R., Alayan Z., Abdouni A., de Neidhardt G., Costes V., Anjubault M., Bouvrais H., Héligon C. and Pecreaux J.
    bioRXiv 2023 Jan

  • Kinetochore microtubules flux poleward along fixed centrosome-anchored microtubules during the metaphase of C. elegans one-cell embryo.
    Soler N., Chesneau L., Bouvrais H., Pasteuzeur S., Le Marrec L. and Pecreaux J.
    bioRXiv 2022 Nov

  • The coordination of spindle-positioning forces during the asymmetric division of the Caenorhabditis elegans zygote.
    Bouvrais, H., Chesneau, L., Le Cunff, Y., Fairbrass, D., Soler, N., Pastezeur, S., Pécot, T., Kervrann, C., and Pécréaux, J. 
    EMBO reports 2021 May

  • Microtubule Feedback and LET-99-Dependent Control of Pulling Forces Ensure Robust Spindle Position.
    Bouvrais H, Chesneau L, Pastezeur S, Fairbrass D, Delattre M, Pécréaux J.
    Biophys J. 2018 Dec

  • The polarity-induced force imbalance in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos is caused by asymmetric binding rates of dynein to the cortex.
    Rodriguez-Garcia R, Chesneau L, Pastezeur S, Roul J, Tramier M, Pécréaux J.
    Mol Biol Cell. 2018 Dec

  • The Mitotic Spindle in the One-Cell C. elegans Embryo Is Positioned with High Precision and Stability.
    Pécréaux J, Redemann S, Alayan Z, Mercat B, Pastezeur S, Garzon-Coral C, Hyman AA, Howard J.
    Biophys J. 2016 Oct.

  • Evolutionary comparisons reveal a positional switch for spindle pole oscillations in Caenorhabditis embryos.
    Riche S, Zouak M, Argoul F, Arneodo A, Pecreaux J and Delattre M.
    J Cell Biol. 2013 May

  • Membrane invaginations reveal cortical sites that pull on mitotic spindles in one-cell C. elegans embryos.
    Redemann S, Pecreaux J, Goehring NW, Khairy K, Stelzer EH, Hyman AA and Howard J.
    PLoS One. 2010 Aug.

  • Spindle oscillations during asymmetric cell division require a threshold number of active cortical force generators.
    Pecreaux J, Roper JC, Kruse K, Julicher F, Hyman AA, Grill SW and Howard J.
    Curr Biology. 2006 Nov.