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Dr Claire Lye

Dr Claire Lye

Research Associate

Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 333755, Fax: +44 (0) 1223 333840

Research Interests

Understanding how are tissues shaped during embryonic growth

During the embryonic growth and development of animals, thousands of cells organise themselves into tissues and organs with a variety of complex shapes. 

I study early Drosophila embryos to understand the fundamental mechanisms by which tissues are shaped during embryonic development, a process called morphogenesis.

Studying the forces underlying morphogenesis

To fully understand morphogenesis, we must understand the nature of all the forces involved and how they act together to direct the final shape of a tissue (Lye and Sanson, 2011).  Tissues arise from groups of cells, which undergo collective cell movements to generate the final shape of the tissue.

Cells in the group can generate their own, intrinsic, forces to drive genetically-programmed cell behaviours contributing to collective cell movement. Cells can also respond to physical forces generated elsewhere in the embryo (extrinsic forces), either by deforming passively or responding actively.  I aim to address integration of both genetically-programmed and physical cues during collective cell movement, using Drosophila axis extension as a model.

I use genetics, in vivo imaging, cell tracking and computational analysis to analyse in detail how cells move and change shape during axis extension in order to understand the forces driving these cell behaviours.

Identifying novel proteins involved in morphogenesis

To identify proteins involved in generating the forces underlying morphogenesis, I led a screen of Drosophila exon-trap lines expressing YFP-tagged proteins, which had been generated by the Cambridge Protein Trap Insertion Team (Lowe et al, 2014; website).  The Yellow Fluorescent Protein (YFP) tag allows the proteins to be visualized in living embryos.  We characterized the subcellular localization of 600 YFP-tagged proteins in early Drosophila embryos (Lye et al, 2014).  Specifically, we identified proteins localizing to the cortex of the cell, which is where the force generating cytoskeleton of the cell resides.  The role of these proteins in morphogenesis is currently being assessed by members of the Sanson lab.

Key Publications

Lye C.M., Blanchard G.B., Naylor H.W., Muresan L., Huisken J., Adams R.J., Sanson B. Mechanical Coupling between Endoderm Invagination and Axis Extension in Drosophila. PLoS Biol. 2015 Nov 6;13(11):e1002292 pdf

Lye, C.M., Naylor, H.W., Sanson, B. (2014) Subcellular localisations of the CPTI collection of YFP-tagged proteins in Drosophila embryos. Development 141: 4006-4017. pdf

Lowe, N., Rees, J.S., Roote, J., Ryder, E., Armean, I.M., Johnson, G., Drummond, E., Spriggs, H., Drummond, J., Magbanua, J.P, Naylor, H., Sanson, B., Bastock, R., Huelsmann, S., Trovisco, V., Landgraf, M., Knowles-Barley, S., Armstrong, J.D., White-Cooper, H., Hansen, C., Roger G. Phillips, The UK Drosophila Protein Trap Screening Consortium*, Lilley, K.S., Russell, S., and St Johnston, D. (2014)  Analysis of the expression patterns, subcellular localisations and interaction partners of Drosophila proteins using a pigP protein trap library Development 141: 3994- 4005. (*listed as author under Consortium list)

Lye, C., and Sanson, B. (2011) Tension and epithelial morphogenesis in Drosophila early embryos. Curr Top Dev Biol 95: 145-187.

Above: Example of cell tracking and analysis of a Drosophila embryo undergoing axis extension, using computational tools developed by Guy Blanchard and Richard Adams.

Above: Summary of subcellular localisations of the CPTI YFP-tagged proteins in the early Drosophila embryo (Figure 1, Lye et al, 2014). Confocal sections of example nuclear, cytoplasmic, membranous or extracellular subcellular localisations.  Sections in apico-basal plane (top panels) and in the plane of the tissue (bottom panels) are shown.  The Venn diagram shows the number of lines with different subcellular localisations.