Welcome to the HELMBACHER Lab

Hello, and welcome to the Helmbacher lab website ! We work at the Institute of Developmental Biology of Marseille (IBDM), affiliated to the CNRS and the Aix-Marseille University, in the beautiful Campus of Luminy.

Morphogenesis and pathologies of Neuromuscular circuits

The main subject of the Helmbacher lab is the study of neuromuscular circuits. We study this on one hand from a developmental biology point of view, focusing on mechanisms driving morphogenesis of muscles and motor circuit assembly. Simultaneously, we explore this system from a pathophysiology point of view, trying to understand how dysfunction of the neuromuscular system, either during development or at homeostatic adult stages, can cause neuromuscular pathologies. A common theme in these studies is that we focus on cell interactions at the interface between distinct cell types, with our favorite players being motor neurons, muscle cells, and connective tissues.  We currently explore the interactions between connective tissue cells and myogenic cells both in the context of muscle morphogenesis during development and of adult muscle regeneration after acute injuries or pathological contexts such as muscular dystrophies (see our recent review, Helmbacher & Stricker, 2020).

Learn more

Do you want to join our team ?

We are always interested in welcoming enthusiastic young scientists in our group, at any stage of your career (undergrads, PhD, post-doc, researcher), whether or not we have specific positions to offer. More information.

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News


December 2020

Hot off the press! Delighted to share that our publication “Fat1 deletion promotes hybrid EMT state, tumour stemness and metastasis“, led by Ievgenia Pastushenko and Federico Mauri, from the lab of Cedric Blanpain (Laboratory of Stem Cells and Cancer, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)) is now out in Nature. December 16, 2020. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-03046-1 | PMID: 33328637 |

This study shows that FAT1 acts as a tumour suppressor gene, its loss promoting initiation and malignant progression of skin and lung squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). Through a combination of studies using mouse and human SCC models, this works not only uncovers key mechanisms by which FAT1 disruption promotes a hybrid EMT phenotype, with simultaneous acquisition of mesenchymal characteristics and maintenance of epithelial programs, but also identifies drug vulnerabilities and resistances of FAT1-deficient SCCs, the knowledge of which will be key for personalized medicine

October 2020

In press! Our work in collaboration with the lab of Cynthia Andoniadou (King’s College, London) featuring the roles of FAT & Dachsous Cadherins during pituitary development, is now out at JCI Insight.

Emily J Lodge, Paraskevi Xekouki, Tatiane S Silva, Cristiane Kochi, Carlos A Longui, Fabio R Faucz, Alice Santambrogio, James L Mills, Nathan Pankratz, John Lane, Dominika Sosnowska, Tina Hodgson, Amanda L Patist, Philippa Francis-West, Francoise Helmbacher, Constantine Stratakis,  Cynthia L Andoniadou. Requirement of FAT and DCHS protocadherins during hypothalamic-pituitary development. JCI Insight, (2020) Oct 27 |PMID: 33108146 | PDF |

June 2020

Proud to announce that a review article co-authored with Sigmar Stricker, is now out in Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology.

Helmbacher, F.#, Stricker, S.#. Tissue cross talks governing limb muscle development and regeneration (Review article). Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology, (2020), June 7 |PMID: 32517852 | #: co-corresponding | PDF: Helmbacher & Stricker 2020 |


June 2020

Aix-Marseille University and our CNRS lab are progressively reopening after the Covid-19 lockdown. AMU has announced that we are officially allowed to welcome new interns to start in July. So if you are a student interested by a summer internship with us, we’ll be happy to have you around and offer you a safe environment to start practicing life as a scientist.  Contact me for details.


May 2020

I am thrilled to share the newest preprint, posted on bioRxiv and submitted during the Covid-self-isolation period!

Helmbacher, F. Fat1 regulates astrocyte maturation and angiogenesis in the retina. BioRxiv preprint


April 2019

As a phase of renovations of the IBDM building has started (plan campus), we (half of the IBDM teams) just moved to our new temporary labs, in a lovely part of the Luminy campus, near the CINAM (the last rectangular building left to the CINAM buildings on the map below).


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Selected Publications

2021

  • Ievgenia Pastushenko, Federico Mauri, Yura Song, Florian de Cock, Bob Meeusen, Benjamin Swedlund, Francis Impens, Delphi Van Haver, Matthieu Opitz, Manuel Thery, Yacine Bareche, Gaelle Lapouge, Marjorie Vermeersch, Yves-Rémi Van Eycke, Cédric Balsat, Christine Decaestecker, Youri Sokolow, Sergio Hassid, Alicia Perez-Bustillo, Beatriz Agreda-Moreno, Luis Rios-Buceta, Pedro Jaen, Pedro Redondo, Ramon Sieira-Gil, Jose F. Millan-Cayetano, Onofre Sanmatrtin, Nicky D’Haene, Virginie Moers, Milena Rozzi, Jeremy Blondeau, Sophie Lemaire, Samuel Scozzaro, Veerle Janssens, Magdalena De Troya, Christine Dubois, David Pérez-Morga, Isabelle Salmon, Christos Sotiriou, Francoise Helmbacher & Cédric Blanpain. Fat1 deletion promotes hybrid EMT state, tumour stemness and metastasis. Nature, (2021) January 21 | PMID: 33328637 | Epub 2020 Dec 16.

2020

  • Emily J Lodge, Paraskevi Xekouki, Tatiane S Silva, Cristiane Kochi, Carlos A Longui, Fabio R Faucz, Alice Santambrogio, James L Mills, Nathan Pankratz, John Lane, Dominika Sosnowska, Tina Hodgson, Amanda L Patist, Philippa Francis-West, Francoise Helmbacher, Constantine Stratakis,  Cynthia L Andoniadou. Requirement of FAT and DCHS protocadherins during hypothalamic-pituitary development. JCI Insight, (2020) Oct 27 |PMID: 33108146 | PDF |
  • Francoise Helmbacher#, Sigmar Stricker#. Tissue cross talks governing limb muscle development and regeneration (Review article). Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology, (2020), June 7 |PMID: 32517852 | #: co-corresponding | PDF: Helmbacher & Stricker 2020 |

2019

  • Jones M., Lingampally A., Dilai S., Shrestha A., Stripp B., Helmbacher F., Chen, C., Chao, C.M., Bellusci S. Characterization of Etv4GFP and Etv5RFP reporter lines in the context of fibroblast growth factor 10 signalling during mouse embryonic lung development. Frontiers in Genetics (2019), 14 March | PMID: 30923534 | doi : 10.3389/fgene.2019.00178 |

2018

  • Petitpré, Wu H, Sharma A, Tokarska A, Fontanet P, Wang Y, Helmbacher F, Yackle K, Silberberg G, Hadjab S, & Lallemend F. Neuronal heterogeneity and stereotyped connectivity in the auditory afferent system. Nature Communications (2018) Sep 12;9(1):3691. | PMID: 30209249 | doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06033-3 | F1000 |

2015

  • Fan Y, Richelme S, Avazeri E, Helmbacher F, Dono R, and Maina F. Tissue-specific gain of RTK signalling uncovers selective cell vulnerability during embryogenesis. PLOS Genetics (2015) September 22 | PMID : 26393505 | DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005533 |
  • Mazdak Bagherie-Lachidan, Antoine Reginensi, Hitisha P. Zaveri, Daryl A. Scott, Françoise Helmbacher and Helen McNeill. Stromal Fat4 acts non-autonomously with Dachsous1/2 to restrict the nephron progenitor pool. Development (2015) june 26 | PMID: 26116661 |
    doi: 10.1242/dev.122648 |
  • Mariot V, Roche S, Hourdé C, Portilho D, Sacconi S, Puppo F, Rameau P, Caruso N, Delezoide AL, Desnuelle C, Bessières B, Collardeau S, Feasson L, Maisonobe T, Magdinier F, Helmbacher F., Mouly V, Butler-Browne G. Dumonceaux J. Correlation between low FAT1 expression and early affected muscle in FSHD. Annals of Neurology (2015) MAY 28 | DOI: 10.1002/ana.24446 | PMID: 26018399 |
  • Puppo F., Dionnet E., Gaillard MC., Gaildrat P., Castro C., Vovan C., Bertaux K., Bernard R., Attarian S., Goto K., Nishino I., Hayashi Y., Magdinier F., Krahn, M., Helmbacher, F., Bartoli, M, and Levy, N. Identification of variants in the 4q35 gene FAT1 in patients with a Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD)-like phenotype. Human Mutation (2015) 23 Jan | PMID : 25615407 | DOI: 10.1002/humu.22760

2014

  • Caruso N., Herberth B., Lamballe F., Arce-Gorvel V., Maina F., and Helmbacher F. Plasticity versus specificity in RTK signalling modalities for distinct biological outcomes in motor neurons. BMC Biology (2014) 12:56 | PMID:25124859 | doi:10.1186/s12915-014-0056-6 |
  • Chai G, Zhou L, Manto M, Helmbacher F, Clotman F, Goffinet AM, Tissir F. Celsr3 is required in motor neurons to steer their axons in the hindlimb. Nat. Neuroscience (2014) Aug 10. | PMID: 25108913 | doi:10.1038/nn.3784.

2013

  • Caruso N, Herberth B, Bartoli M, Puppo F, Dumonceaux J, Zimmermann A, Denadai S, Lebossé M, Roche S, Geng L, Magdinier F, Attarian S, Bernard R, Maina F, Levy N, Helmbacher F. Deregulation of the protocadherin gene FAT1 alters muscle shapes: implications for the pathogenesis of facioscapulohumeral dystrophy. PLoS Genet. (2013) Jun;9(6):e1003550. | PMID: 23785297 | doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003550 |

Complete publication list